Sept 3, 2017 – Be Merciful: Mercy and the Golden Rule
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.
The wisdom of the golden rule (v31) is in its simplicity, but the context in which Jesus teaches it indicates that it directs the actions of mature, merciful disciples.
I) The golden rule helps you act mercifully.
- “love” (v27) – choice, not just feeling/emotion
- the simplicity of the golden rule helps us navigate our complex emotional responses
II) Being merciful helps you live out the golden rule.
- Jesus’s charge to “be merciful” (v36) calls us to love in the very hardest situations – mature disciples are in the best position to apply “as you wish that others would do to you”
- more than just acting mercifully, we become merciful through the generosity of God, who is “kind to the ungrateful and evil” (v35)
- the gospel changes our past and so Jesus gives us a future looking principle for life on a different trajectory
Questions for Reflection
- When you experience a tension between what your mind tells you to do, and what your emotions tell you to do, how do you navigate that situation? Do you default to one or the other? Does the golden rule help you in those situations?
- The golden rule directs your actions with reflection on what you would want done for yourself. How do you do the right thing without assuming that others are like you or want exactly what you want? How can “as you wish others would do to you” be an effective way to discern the right course of action? How do you avoid applying the golden rule in a completely self centered way?
- In Luke 6 the golden rule is spoken in the context of loving and doing good in the very worst of situations (among people who hate you, abuse you, strike you). What factors would keep you from applying the golden rule to those situations? What would help you apply the golden rule?
- How can the following alternative versions of the golden rule help you? a) do to others as you hope that God will do for you? b) do for others as God has done for you?
- Does the golden rule change your heart? How can love really take deep root in you?
- Through Jesus God extends mercy to us, the “ungrateful and evil” (v35). How can reflection on the love of Christ on the cross be a means for understanding your past in new light?
- The golden rule has a future orientation – looking ahead to how you will act based on reflecting on how you would want others to act towards you. What spiritual disciplines will help you in that reflection so you are better suited to look ahead to your actions in a way that honors Jesus?
Prayer of Confession
Our Father, we make simple things complicated, and intuitively find loopholes in Jesus’s basic teaching: that we should do for others as we would have them do for us. The more we try to make use of the golden rule, the more it becomes obvious how much our own desires and intentions are not merciful.
Lord, even when we strive to be merciful people, we confess that our hearts are not right. We very firmly want others to do things for us, but we are lazy when it comes for doing for others. Lord, we don’t come anywhere close to meeting Jesus’s standard of loving our enemies.
We appeal to you for mercy, because you are kind, and pray that your mercy would be power for change in us. Amen.