Aug 13, 2017 – Be Merciful: Mercy As Strength In Opposition
Preacher: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: Be Merciful
Luke 6:27-36 (ESV)
27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Jesus broadens our understanding of mercy by portraying it as a form of strength that directs your actions when facing opposition.
I) A protective strength
- protects your character and shields you from the temptation to perpetuate the wrongs done to you
- “enemies… hate… curse… abuse…” (vv27-28) – who is influencing you?
II) An active strength
- Jesus is not encouraging passivity, he is clarifying the kinds of actions to take when facing opposition
- “love… do good… bless… pray for” (vv27-28)
III) A hidden strength
- mercy may have the appearance of weakness but proves (over time) to be a powerful way of engaging our world
Questions for Reflection
- If you imagine a strong person, what traits do they have (not physical strength, but character)? What elements make up strong character? Do the qualities of compassion, patience, kindness, etc. fit this picture? How would you categorize traits of mercy?
- Many find the teaching of Jesus to love your enemies and to do good to those against you hard. What do you find hard about these words (Luke 6:27-28)?
- If you are somebody who avoids confrontation, speaking up, or generally prefers to overlook things: how much of this is because of fear, laziness, apathy? How much is because of wisdom, compassion, patience? What would it look like to choose actions (responding with kindness, praying for people, etc.) rather than simply being passive and doing nothing?
- If you are someone who is quick to respond and defend yourself or others: how much of your responses are driven by anger, impatience, self protection, etc.? how much is wisdom, courage, a conviction of justice, etc.? What actions promote true peace, reconciliation, or make things better rather than worse?
- In what ways is Jesus a strong person? How are his mercy, compassion, patience and love expressions of strength?
- When you feel weak and face great opposition, how can the mercy Jesus offers (chiefly in his suffering and death) be a source of strength and a guide for your actions?
Prayer of Confession
Our Father, you tell us to love our enemies, but we confess we fail to love our friends. We can be selfish, defensive, vengeful and spiteful. When people do wrong to us, rarely do we respond by doing what is right. In an effort to be strong, our weakness is exposed as we perpetuate the same wrongs done to us. We acknowledge we find the teaching to love our enemies hard. We recognize we have lived as enemies to you, and yet you have offered us mercy. Forgive our failure to do the same for others, and we pray for your continued mercy on us. Amen.