Aug 6, 2017 – Be Merciful: Understanding God’s Kindness
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.
Becoming a kind and merciful person begins with God’s mercy as a foundation
I) Perceiving the world through a lens of mercy
- v36 “your Father is merciful”
II) Stretching your conception of mercy
- v35 “he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil”
III) Developing an understanding that rests between actions of mercy
- v36 “be… even as…”
- there is the action of God (mercy to us through the sufferings of Christ), and there are our actions (being merciful to people) – in between there is theology, the understanding of God’s grace and living in that reality
Questions for Reflection
- If you were to describe God, what would be the top 3 adjectives that you would use (what would you attribute to God)? Would kindness or mercy be one of them?
- What has shaped your thinking about God? What key life experiences or lessons influence what you believe about God? How much has the Bible shaped how you view God? How much of what you have learned about who God is has shaped how you view your self and the world?
- Jesus tells us God “is kind to the ungrateful and evil.” What hinders you from being kind to any who would come across as “ungrateful”, or even evil? How could or should you show kindness to people you think of in those categories? What boundaries or limitations are wise or appropriate?
- Before we act on Jesus’ teaching to be merciful, we need to receive the mercy of God, offered to us through Jesus. How can your understanding of mercy develop between these 2 actions (the suffering of Jesus for you, and your showing mercy to others)?
Prayer of Confession
Our God and Father, you are kind, merciful and gracious. Yet, we confess, we are skeptical, fearful, cynical, untrusting and confused. We assume you are like us and those around us, and we misunderstand you. We have misjudged you unfairly. We recognize our own lack of compassion for others has its roots in our failure to know and trust you. Teach us to understand your kindness and how it extends even to the ungrateful and wicked. Help us to receive your mercy so that we would know you better, experience your grace, and become people who are ourselves merciful. Amen.