January 2, 2010

To Live is Christ — Being Merciful

This year will be one of conviction. Being hungry for righteousness more than food is already difficult, but these verses from Matthew continue to strike at my conscience.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.  Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. (Matthew 5:6–8)
If I am going to see “For to me, to live is Christ” happen in my life, then I also must do more than consider how He is merciful — I must also be merciful.

I don’t need to look up this word in my Greek dictionary. I know what it means. Mercy is showing kindness to people who do nothing to deserve it. Mercy is what Christ did for me concerning forgiveness and eternal life. If I am to live for Christ and show the world what He is like, then I must also be merciful.

I already know that my attitude is not like this. Judgmental is far easier and more likely to come to mind when I encounter those who “have done nothing to deserve” my kindness. The unclean and unkept homeless who refuse to work, those who know it all and are overbearing, the thoughtless and rude, those drivers who cut me off in traffic . . .  I could make a long list.

Also, I already know that even with my “homebody” life style, I will have many opportunities to practice being merciful. How about telemarketers? How about the kids selling cookies or those who come to the door promoting their cult? What about that woman in the line ahead of me who keeps running back into the store for more groceries, then slowly takes out her wallet long after the clerk has rung everything in?

I was going to do a word study on hunger yesterday, but it didn’t happen (we are on holidays). Today my husband is headed for the golf course. I have five hours to let the impact of “to me, to live is Christ” sink in a bit more, five hours to talk to God about my failures and lapses, and the rest of my life to put these things into practice.

If I had to do this by myself, it would not happen. Instead, there is the Holy Spirit. He will make the difference. He has to; I know that I cannot jump from my normal hungers to a hunger for righteousness, nor can I suddenly change from annoyed and judging to merciful. Such changes require confession, repentance, and the grace of Almighty God.

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