I read about a photographer who once had a woman comment on her photo. “Oh, that picture doesn’t do me justice!” The photographer responded, “Lady, you don’t need justice, you need mercy.” Zing! However true that may be, as believers we have received not the justice required for our sin but His mercy. Today we move into the beatitude that reminds us of the spiritual law of sowing and reaping.
When we come face to face with our sin, the Father of Mercies clears our record and forgives. We are expected, Jesus tells us, to extend that same measure of mercy and forgiveness to others.
With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. (Psalm 18:25, 26 ESV)
What exactly is mercy? Simply put, it’s keeping from someone what they deserve. Someone wrongs you and you didn’t deserve it. Granted. Mercy says, don’t give them what they deserve, release them. We call that a paradox and Jesus loved to use them. A paradox is a seemingly contradictory, even absurd statement that nonetheless states truth. It doesn’t seem reasonable to love your enemies. If they are an enemy, then they hate you. Paradox. Jesus says to turn the other cheek and take it again. Honor your parents, even when their behavior doesn’t warrant it. Submit to your husband, even when he seems wrong. Are you kidding? No, Jesus taught in this Sermon on the Mount how to experience kingdom living. It may be a paradox, it seems absurd, but its true.
There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. (James 2:13 NLT)
Not only did Jesus teach using paradox but loved telling parables. This is a story with a spiritual lesson interweaved. We don’t analyze every detail but the theme of the whole story. Matt. 18:23-35 is a very serious parable teaching mercy. A king forgives the debt of a servant who owed him much. That same man refused to show mercy and forgive a fellow servant his debt. The king was furious; listen to his response:
Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.” (Matthew 18:33-35 NLT)
In this law of sowing and reaping we are taught that if you plant seeds of mercy you can be confident that you will receive mercy. Whatever spiritual seeds you plant, just like natural gardening, you will grow. You don’t plant orange seeds and expect to grow apples, do you? Therefore, pay attention to your heart and attitudes and grow a vibrant garden.