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1) Understanding God’s mercy
If we don’t appreciate God’s wrath, that stems from His holiness, then we will not be able to grasp the crucial concept of mercy. This is the problem Jesus identified in the parable of ‘The Unmerciful Servant.’ Peter asked, “How many times should a person forgive another?” Jesus responded by saying, ‘seventy times seven.’ Let’s summarize this illustrative story in Matthew 18:21-35.
Jesus illustrated how impossible it is for a person who received mercy from God not to act mercifully to another. This one servant had a huge debt to a king, something like ten million US dollars. The Lord of the land felt compassion and forgave him. But that same person went out and started exacting every last penny from a fellow servant who owed him a few month’s wages. He choked him and said, “Pay back what you owe!” He was unwilling to hear the poor man’s plea for pity and sent him to prison to pay back the debt. When the enraged king found out, he said,
You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you? And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart. (Matthew 18:32-35).
Underline what God will do to us if we do not forgive others from our hearts. By withholding mercy, we shut off mercy from flowing into our lives.
2) Mercy is a way of life
Mercy is the willingness to treat a person in view of his weakness. The merciful person acts with compassion. He holds no grudges. He harbors no bitterness. He knows how special it was for God to kindly treat him by forgiving him and so determines to act kindly to others.
Reflection: Our perspective greatly shapes our attitudes. When God converted me, he revealed my sin to me. Before, I was oblivious to it. I knew I was not perfect, but I was convinced that I was not too bad either. My point of comparison was my brother, “I wasn’t as bad as ....” I simply did not evaluate myself according to God’s standards. But when He revealed my sin to me, I became totally desperate in a matter of seconds. I pleaded for God to save me through Jesus and He saved me. By being truly aware of my sin, I was then able to learn to be merciful to others. My pride was destroyed, and I could see others in my own circumstances.
Application: State the last time you acted mercifully? Determine to start acting mercifully. Start with those closest to you.
A strategic basic discipleship series designed to help Christians grow not only in their relationship with God but also with other people. Each section uses a familiar relationship to bring out basic but very practical Biblical teaching.
We highly recommend getting the BFF Discipleship #1 Digital Library which not only includes the Relationship Discipleship book, but slides, summaries, user guide, teacher's reference, etc. This D#1 Library also contains all our other Christian training resources for new believers.
These Christian media-enriched resources can also be purchased in the BFF Resource Center.
Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988