Our Greatest Model Of Mercy: Jesus

Mercy is of God. It is always rooted in love. It always includes forgiveness of those who wronged us. Jesus is the model of such mercy. And this is what he has called us to participate in as Christians. Mercy heals. In the end, it is the only thing that will bring healing to the wounds we experience between one another individually, in community, and in the larger world.

Too often in our human weakness, we fly first to judgement and too often it is without mercy. It is retribution that we seek, some kind of payback for the wrongs that have been done to us. This kind of judgement, though, is the product of sinful prejudices, angers, or prideful arrogance and the great irony is that it is alway unjust.

There is too much of this kind of judgement in the world. It has been so since time immemorial. Look around and you see the effects and consequences of this kind of judgmentalism everywhere. It can be seen in the small arguments that happen between neighbors that escalate into angry words, then into law suits. You can see it in the rhetoric of our current politics. The language of judgmentalism is everywhere. Accusations abound and the demonization of the other seems to be the most popular tactic today. As a result, justice has lost its orientation toward the common good, and has devolved into the narrow interpretations of identity politics and political correctness. All are judged as guilty who are not in lockstep agreement with the particular group or party’s agendas. And the result is nothing less than chaos and the constant atmosphere of mutual threat and harsh judgment. This only creates an atmosphere of revenge. None of this kind of behavior is of God.

Mercy involves forgiveness. Anyone who prays the Our Father regularly knows that we will be judged/forgiven by God in accordance with how we have judged/forgiven those who have sinned against us. This should give every Christian pause before he or she judges another without mercy. As James tells us here: “Mercy triumphs over judgement.” We are, of course, to judge between what is right and moral, and what is not. But when we judge we are to do so with mercy, for “there but for the grace of God go I.” I am a sinner too. I know my need for mercy. Yes, when I sin, I am to be judged for my sins and their consequences, but God’s judgement is not without mercy. His mercy liberates us from our sinfulness. Our human judgmentalism does not liberate the other from their sins, rather it usually cabins, cribs, and confines them with a vengeance.

Lord, help us to find the courage to be merciful in our judgements of other. Help us to see their need to be liberated from that which binds them in sin. Give us hearts large enough to forgive with compassion and understanding, even with those who disagree with us. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.
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