Friday, September 26, 2014

ICF Devotional

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Matthew 5:7

I have the word “mercy” circled in my Bible with a little arrow drawn to the words “compassion + action.”  I love writing notes on the pages of my Bible when a pastor says something I want to remember or when God speaks to my heart while I’m reading.  Sometimes a verse will especially strike me in a raw moment and I will put the date in the margin with a few words to remind me of the situation I was going through at that time.  I love coming across these notes.  On a difficult day all I have to do is open my Bible and I have a rich record of the journey I have gone through with God.  Often God uses these past experiences to remind me that He is present every step through the day.  I have a visible record of the continuous conversation we have.
Mercy is not an easy character trait to incorporate into our lives.  It takes effort of our mind and our will.  We have to choose to see things as the other person sees them and feel things as they feel them.  Barclay says:  “O the bliss of the man who gets right inside other people until he can see with their eyes, think with their thoughts, feel with their feelings, for he who does that will find others do the same for him and will know that that is what God in Jesus Christ has done.”  There are many different degrees of mercy from the stranger on the street to a close friend.  The greatest degree of mercy comes to those we invest our lives in.  When we have chosen to walk along side a person for a period of time.
Have you ever had a situation where someone just spills out their woes to you?  You might be a bit taken back, not knowing they were going through a difficult time.  There is nothing you can do to help remedy their situation, no matter how small or large, but as you listen to what they are saying and feel the pain they are experiencing you realize you have compassion for them.  Sincerely you say “I am sorry you are experiencing…”  Three words change everything.  The situation is still there, you are still unable to change it for them, but suddenly the burden has lifted slightly.  They are no longer alone.  Their pain has been acknowledged.
I think extending mercy is essential to receiving mercy.  Jesus said:  the merciful will be shown mercy.  It’s so easy to go through life collecting hurts and building walls.  Walls protect us from being hurt, but walls also prohibit us from extending mercy.  We don’t want to feel pain and we don’t want to take time to invest in another person’s life—especially if that person is broken or struggling in some way.  We naturally want to protect ourselves and soon we have built a life that doesn’t see the pain of others and doesn’t allow anyone in to share our burden.  Jesus turned these ideas of self preservation upside down when He said give mercy to get mercy.  
As I begin to tumble these ideas of mercy around inside my head, I realize I must examine my relationships, beginning with those closest to me.  Have I built walls around myself creating barriers to see the pain in my family?  Are my close friends struggling with something that I have completely blown-off?  My ability to show mercy to others is like shock waves.  If I don’t have the ability to see the pain of those closest to me and extend compassion and love to them, then I will never see or understand the pain of other people around me.  But the more I can be real and share the burdens of those whom I trust, mercy ripples out from me opening my eyes to needs I never saw before.
Carry each others burdens,
and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

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