Devotion: Monday, February 25, 2019

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s reading is from Luke 6:27–36, where Jesus says,   

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Put the Power of Mercy to Work in Your Life!

One year Dave Hagler was working as an umpire in a rec-baseball league in Boulder, Colorado. Unfortunately, Dave got pulled over for speeding one day. He tried to talk the officer out of giving him a ticket. Dave asked for leniency since it could make his insurance go up. But the officer was relentless and told Dave that he could take the matter to court if he didn’t like the ticket. Fast-forward to the first game of the next baseball season. Dave was umpiring behind the plate when he recognized the policeman coming to bat. The officer also noticed Dave and asked how the whole ticket thing turned out. Dave simply replied, “You better swing at everything!”[1]

Ah, retribution! We often have that kind of picture of God, don’t we? We imagine God is merely in the business of retribution like the police officer or the umpire. We wish He’d bend the rules now and again. But, in all things, we’d like Him to be fair. Of course, if that doesn’t work, we’d just like for Him to allow us to even the score in the end, you know, to “keep it fair.” That’s life, right? Wrong. Jesus’ ministry was a proclamation that there is real mercy for life in a world that, because of its sin and rebellion, can’t even be fair. In fact, we as a people —all of us—are often enamored with temporal fairness, even as we jettison God’s mercy and leave behind His righteous call to live moral and virtuous lives in Him for others. People today actually believe that God’s judgment can be appeased by their best efforts, their righteous intentions, and their desire for fairness. They fail to realize that such a life, devoid of mercy, ends up being one of vindictiveness, saying to others, “You’d better swing at everything.”

In this event in the life of Jesus, He’s telling us about the love that we have from God (one that truly loves enemies, even us), and the love that we get to share with others as His people. Life and salvation are not about fairness from Him; they are about mercy. In fact, God doesn’t treat you fairly according to your sin. God doesn’t treat you fairly according to His blessings either. And, even when others do treat you unjustly, God promises to be with you and never let this world overcome you. None of that love is fair or deserved; instead, all of that love stems from His mercy.

This week, think about the life that you have, or the life you can have because of God’s mercy for you in Jesus Christ. Begin to pray about the depth of that mercy, the deep roots of that love, and see if that begins to change how you look at the relationships in your life that really matter to you. This is a message you won’t hear in the board room, the Capitol, or the secular university classroom, no. But you will hear it in the church that proclaims the work of Christ. And those who put their faith in Him and who follow Him begin to learn how to put mercy to work in their life without diminishing sin and God’s call to righteousness, and without giving in to the retribution mindset that is so prevalent in our world today.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, teach us the depth of Your mercy for us, so that we might live faithful lives of grace and mercy to others. AMEN.