Whenever we talk about getting right with God, there has to be a component of humility. You can't enter into a right relationship with your Creator unless you recognize what that relationship IS. You aren't fishing buddies with God, but you are known to him; and if you're truly seeking, he'll also be known to you.
But in that knowledge, there must be humility. You must, at some point, come to the realization that, while God loves you, he probably has to choke down some nasty stuff to do so. Yes, God delights in his children, but we are, without question, a messy bunch. We can be hard to love.
And if we don't get there - if we aren't humble - if we find ourselves thinking, "Hey, I think I'm doing pretty well. I bet it's easy for God to love me," God will humble us. I promise.
If I've said this once, I've said it a hundred times: the opposite of faith is not doubt, it's certainty. Be careful with your confidence - the confidence that God loves you is worlds away from the confidence that he SHOULD.
Jesus told a story about two guys who demonstrated this truth: *
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: "God, I thank you that I am not like other people - robbers, evildoers, adulterers - or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get."
But the tax collector stood at a distance. He wouldn't even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
If we can truly understand this - if we can see the breadth of God's mercy in our own lives - then that's the first step toward being merciful to others. It may even be a pre-requisite.
God, grant me mercy, and help me to always be humble enough to recognize that I require it. Amen.
Series Title: BLESSED
Message Title: merciful
Main Passages: Mt 5:7, Jas 2:13
Some questions for reflection or group study (or please comment on them, below):
- If you've ever known someone like the Pharisee in the parable, what were they like?
- If you've ever know someone like the tax collector, what were they like?
- In what ways have you been like the Pharisee? The tax collector?
- What's the difference between receiving mercy and showing mercy to others?