Mercy for Beggars
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Lord doesn’t merely say, “Love your neighbor,” but to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Empathy is commanded because our sinful mind is not empathetic. It is selfish. We invoke a double standard. When we consider our own actions, we make excuses. We want to be admired. We think that people should respect us. When we consider the actions of others, we see serious character flaws. This is also what makes us all armchair quarterbacks. We think we can understand and critique the coaches or players of our favorite teams, as though we know more about the game, or have more experience and talent than they do. If the measure you use is used on you, you are in big trouble. Repent.
We are all beggars, unworthy of the love lavished upon us. None of us lives out the mercy that has been poured upon us. We are not merciful as our Father is merciful. The deeper we look into our hearts, the more hypocrisy we find. Yet, love is lavished upon us anyway, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. Here is what ought to impress us, to take our breath away, to change our minds and hearts: the Lord removes the logs from our eyes. Your Father is merciful. His good works, His mercy, His love is counted as ours; our sins are counted as His. He loves us as Himself; He does unto Himself what He should have done to us. He loves us perfectly, without fail, without holding anything back.
His mercy is without any deceit. Our Lord loves us from His very heart. There is no partiality, no double standard. All of humanity has been reconciled to the Father in the Son. We have been declared righteous. None deserve this. None are truly better than the others. None are lacking this saving love from God, though, sadly, some reject this love. Some refuse His mercy. All are loved: the good and the bad, the greatest and the least, the repentant sinner striving to be merciful and the hardened murderer. He causes His sun to rise over the evil and the good, even as He causes His Son to pay for every sin.
This is real mercy, not a frustrated surrender. Our Lord does not take our sins lightly. Nor does He love us with words alone. He dies to pay the price for sin. He loves us in deed and truth. He not only removes the guilt of our sin and bestows His name and the promise of a future upon us, but He also feeds us, provides for us, and prepares a place for us beyond the grave.
His mercy is unchanging and inexhaustible. He is constantly moved by compassion. And this mercy is free. He does not love for the sake of reward. He is not self-seeking. He does not love those who can or will love Him back; He loves all. He does not say, “If you are merciful, then the Father will be merciful.” He says, “Your Father is merciful,” and then He urges you to reflect that mercy. You should be changed by it. How merciful you are, or how often you fail, doesn’t determine how merciful He will be. His nature is mercy. He gives mercy because He is mercy, and we simply receive it and reflect some of His love to one another. He does not see a log or speck in your eye. He does not see any flaw or lack of mercy. He sees perfection, an immaculate bride, a friend. Your Father is merciful because that is His nature, because He is good, because He is love. This mercy is poured out, lavished, shaken together, overflowing, in the body and blood of Christ, given to you to eat and drink for the forgiveness of your sins. And there is mercy enough even for you to share with your neighbor. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.