Monday, February 6 Luke 10:30-37
“The one who had mercy on him”
Once we have found the great central truth in life, that we are loved by God now and forever, we can behave like the Good Samaritan and show mercy to others. Our attitude becomes “Whatever is mine is God’s and whatever is God’s can be used by God, through me, to care for my neighbor.” Paying the innkeeper a considerable amount of his own money, the Samaritan took care of this unknown, injured man. He did not do so in order to obey an external law – if such a law existed, the priest and the Levite should both have stopped to help – but because “he had compassion on him.”
Jesus says to us, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Love of self is instinctive. If you’re in trouble, you never wonder if you’re worth helping. Jesus is saying that those who live in the Kingdom of God love their neighbor without wondering whether they are worth helping. We show mercy because God has shown us mercy, and our desire is to treat others as Christ would treat them, thus becoming more like Christ.
Use who I am and what I have, Lord, to show others mercy. Amen.
Tuesday, February 7 Ephesians 4:30-32
“Forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”
The language of grieving the Holy Spirit is derived from Isaiah 63:10, “But Israel rebelled against God and grieved his Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit lives in us and is our seal guaranteeing salvation. Why grieve the One who is proof we belong to God and are destined for eternal life by behaving in ways contrary to God’s will? The Holy Spirit is sometimes represented by a flame, and to grieve the Holy Spirit by the way we live is “playing with fire.” We need to be careful or we, like Israel, will get burned.
The words in verse 31 express hostility and actions that destroy human relationships. In contrast to the badness and malice in verse 31, verse 32 calls for goodness, which applied to humans is understood as being kind. Paul also calls for showing compassion and forgiveness to others, treatment that is grounded in God’s treatment of us. It is because God is merciful (not treating us as we deserve) that he forgives, and we are called to show mercy by forgiving those who sin against us.
May the mercy I show others, Lord, include forgiving them. Amen.
Wednesday, February 8 Colossians 3:12-15
“Clothe yourselves with . . .”
Paul lists several Christian virtues that are especially important for how believers relate to others, the first of which is “tenderhearted mercy” (also translated “compassion”). These are not considered by Paul to be airy, ethical ideals, but virtues that we are to put into practice in the concrete situations that confront us in the world. The virtues are similar to “the fruit of the Spirit” (see Galatians 5:22-23), and all these qualities characterized Jesus’ life. Thus, they must also characterize the lives of disciples who seek to “become like Christ.”
Paul addresses the Colossians as “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.” The image of being “chosen” reminds us that our salvation is a gift of undeserved grace. That grace is not only for our salvation, but also that we might serve him faithfully with the way we live our lives. In this sense of service, we have been chosen for the benefit of the world whose welfare we are to serve. As those who are chosen by God, we must choose our behavior so as to be living advertisements of what God’s grace can do in human lives.
When I am merciful, Lord, others will see you in me (whether or not they know it). Amen.
Thursday, February 9 Matthew 18:21-35
“Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?”
Jesus’ statement, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like . . .” shows that the parable illustrates the kind of life God requires those to live who seek to be a part of his kingdom. A king, settling accounts with his servants, found one servant owing ten thousand talents. That’s fifty million denarii, and one denarii was a normal daily wage. Herod’s annual income was only nine hundred talents. Jesus is illustrating our debt to God as totally beyond our ability to pay. When the servant begs for mercy, the king has compassion on him and forgives his debt.
The forgiven man, who should have lived in gratitude for his freedom, went out and met a man who owed him a relatively small sum. Demanding payment, he ignores the man’s plea for patience, and throws him in prison until the debt can be paid. Hearing about this injustice, the king angrily calls the man he had forgiven and declares that the man will now be treated as he had treated his debtor. The man is sent to prison.
I will treat others with the same mercy, Lord, with which you have treated me. Amen.
Friday, February 10 Titus 3:3-8
“He saved us because of his mercy”
Paul’s passionate commitment to salvation by God’s grace alone stands at the center of this summary of the Gospel. Salvation simply cannot be achieved by our good works. It is all God’s doing from start to finish. Having had our sins washed away and been given new life through the Holy Spirit, we now stand ready to move into eternal life. Our faith places great hope in the future. It is this hope that calls us to take the present seriously, and it is this hope that gives us strength to do the good work God calls us to daily.
The reason for doing good works is that God is good, and our good works are the product of God’s kindness and love at work within us through the Holy Spirit. A great deal of life is learning the difference between what is useful and what is useless. And that’s not easy. The price tags are all mixed up. Useless things are promoted and are often quite costly, while useful things go ignored and undervalued. The Gospel is greatly concerned with helping us sort things out so that we can base our lives on what is genuinely worthwhile and enduring.
May I be useful for you, Lord, and share your mercy with others. Amen.
Saturday, February 11 Matthew 5:1-10
“Blessed are the merciful”
In God’s great mercy he does not give humans what they deserve; rather, he gives them what they do not deserve. Likewise, the merciful are those who demonstrate forgiveness for the guilty and kindness to the hurting and needy. The religious leadership in Jesus’ day tended toward being merciless because of their demand for rigorous observance of the law. Their motive was commendable in that it was driven by a desire for the people of Israel to be pure, but it was inexcusable because their unbending demands produced harshness and condemnation toward those who did not meet their standards.
Jesus commends those who demonstrate mercy toward the needy, because the mercy that they show others will be shown toward them. Showing mercy toward others does not earn a person entrance to the kingdom; rather, mercy is a heart attitude that opens a person to receive the ongoing reality of God’s mercy. The religious leaders could not receive God’s mercy because they didn’t believe that they needed mercy.
I need your mercy, Lord, for I am a sinner unable to earn my forgiveness. Amen.