Aug 27, 2017 – Be Merciful: Are There Limits to Mercy?
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.
There are no limits to mercy, but merciful people will discern limitations in particular situations.
I) Offer the other cheek. (v29)
- an alternative to fear or aggression, turning towards your enemy
- being merciful – persist in seeing your adversary as a human being (which helps you frame the situation and identify what it not good)
II) Give to everyone who begs. (v30)
- subverts our excuses and points to something greater than our possessions or honor – yet doesn’t tell us how (or what) to give in any particular situation
- prayer – a life long of asking for forgiveness and begging from God
Questions for Reflection
- What is the hardest part of “offering the other cheek” to someone who has hurt you (for you personally)? Do you agree with this teaching of Jesus? If you do, what steps can you take to actually doing it? If you don’t agree with this teaching, what do you believe are ways to respond to injustices that promotes a good outcome?
- How often do you do things because you “feel bad” not doing them? Is that mercy? What other motivations (particularly problematic motivations) are there for doing things you otherwise don’t want to do? How can you learn to say “no” in a way that is rooted in mercy?
- Are you prepared to show mercy to all? Who do (or would) you have the most trouble being merciful to? Why?
- Jesus teaches us to be merciful with no limitations. Yet, in many situations the “merciful” thing to do is to defend, confront, or say no. Think of some scenarios where you have to draw a line – how do you still remain merciful to someone even when confronting or saying no?
- Is there a connection between your expectations of how God will treat you (forgiving, hearing years of prayer requests) and your attitude towards other people?
- We ask God for many things, or we have many wants/needs (whether we ask God for them or not). How is Gods’ sending Jesus an answer to these requests/longings?
Prayer of Confession
Father, we make many excuses for not being merciful. We can rationalize our selfishness, explain away our fears, excuse our vengeful actions, justify our stinginess – but the truth is that we do not love as you love. We want limits on the mercy we show others, but want no limit on the mercy you show us. Lord, show us mercy, and we appeal to you for forgiveness so that we might come to be merciful even as you, our Father, are merciful. Amen.