March 26 I Thursday
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
It is a mystery how the Christian church gained a reputation for pointing fingers; but one thing for sure, it did not come from Jesus. The opening verse of this devotion comes from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. To be merciful, of course, is to be compassionate, which is where the rubber of the Christian life hits the road of day-to-day living. We cannot separate our relationship with God from our relationship with people.
In fact, to love God is to love our neighbours as John tells us, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20).
Any Tom, Dick, Harry or Mary can say, “I love God,” but we know the reality of that statement by how they demonstrate love towards people.
Not because, as Christians, this is “our thing” or this is “something we ought to do;” rather, a natural expression of loving God is that we love and minister to the world. This could be expressed in all kinds of ways but we reach out to the needs of our world simply because in loving God, we can do nothing else but to love the people of the world.
Yet, it is possible for us to do all the right things without a changed attitude. Hence, to love people, we must first understand how Jesus sees people. If we were to read through the four Gospels and look for Jesus’s compassion, we would find that it permeates throughout. For example, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them…” (Mark 6:34); “Jesus called His disciples to Him and said,
‘I have compassion for these people…’” (Matthew 15:32) and “And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her...” (Luke 7:13, ESV).
From these different verses, we notice all the instincts of Jesus’s compassion are on the side of failures, sinners, the broken, the disappointed, the hurting, the defeated, the lonely and the sad. The instinct of Jesus to have compassion is the same instinct that He plants in each of us as believers through the Holy Spirit. Jesus had a reputation for being “a friend of sinners,” which may seem like a bad reputation but it is just the opposite. This is the very reputation that the church of Jesus Christ should be known for. The work that God does in and through us is to express His compassion, mercy and kindness. May we tangibly demonstrate love to the world as Jesus sees people, “filled with compassion.”
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for being a friend of sinners. May I not only reflect Your love but also be filled with compassion for those around me. Praise You!