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June 23, 2024

Be Merciful

Passage: Luke 6:36-42

Dear Father in heaven who could with perfect justice condemn us all to eternal damnation
because of our multitude of sins, but who did choose to show mercy unto us by sending us a
Savior, Jesus Christ, through faith in whom we have forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation; lead
us who have experienced such great mercy to be merciful to our fellow sinners, helping them on
their way to enjoying Thy mercy also. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
Peace, and the search for it, is a very popular topic at our time. Anyone who could bring
an end to war in Ukraine, or Israel would be a very strong candidate for president of our country.
But how to bring about this peace is a matter of much debate. Some would simply disarm and
expect others to do the same. Some would build up a mighty arsenal so no country would dare
attack. Others would try to inspire peace at the conference table.
Jesus promises peace – a peace which is a certainty and which we can possess now. He
says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, do I give
unto you.” John 14:27a. The different kinds of peace are not hidden. Jesus is promising an
inner peace which comes from the forgiveness of sins and the assurance of eternal life through
faith in Him as the Savior. The peace which is so sought by the world is freedom from
any unpleasantness in physical matters.
This difference of goals and values is very evident in many areas. Scripture asks many
things which the world simply cannot understand and therefore will not consider. When Scripture
speaks of holiness, humility, conversion, and faith, it makes no sense to the world. In fact, the
world often looks upon these things as weaknesses.
Yet when it comes to other things, the world instantly approves them and praises them.
Even the drunk at the bar may condemn drunkenness and agree that it is very evil. We find
apparent agreement in another field this morning – the topic of mercy. Much is made of mercy
by the world. That a person provide for the needs of his needy neighbor, that he give help in
trouble or when danger threatens – these merciful things the world can see, appreciate, and
urge. We might even get the idea that the world is quite merciful.
But when we investigate the matter closer, we find that the man of the world has
something different in mind when he speaks of mercy than what God demands. This does not
deny that there is a type of mercy practiced by the world. There is, and its fruits are outwardly
very beautiful and are good as far as they go. Think of all the worthwhile charities which are
supported by the world's mercy. Yet the world's mercy is different than what God requires.
The first sentence in our text shows that this difference exists,”Therefore be merciful
just as your Father also is merciful.” These words tell us that only the Christian, who by faith
in Jesus Christ, knows God's mercy can be truly merciful. That is why the exhortation to BE
MERCIFUL is directed toward us Christians, and that is why on the basis of our text and with the
guidance of the Holy Spirit we will consider that exhortation – BE MERCIFUL. In order that we
Be Merciful, our text shows us that it is necessary that we
1) know of and believe in God's mercy toward us;
2) humbly acknowledge our guilt as sinners; and
3) not be hypocrites nor deceive ourselves.
“Be merciful!” That is the friendly exhortation which Jesus addresses to us at the
beginning of our text. But it is impossible for us to follow this command if we haven't come to
that source of all true mercy – God's mercy. As our heavenly Father is merciful, so we should be.
We must first be God's children and have experienced our heavenly Father's mercy.
Where do we see this mercy? Through the eyes of faith we see it everywhere. We see it
demonstrated in God's creation, in nature, in day and night, in all of God's gifts to man, in His

guidance of each one of us. All of these things, no matter how different they might be, show the
same love and faithfulness on God's part. Just how would it go without God's continuing mercy?
We couldn't exist for a moment.
Yet this revelation of God's mercy as demonstrated by His preservation of creation will
not produce mercy on the part of man. In spite of all God's goodness, the hearts remain the
same – selfish, cold, hard, and mean. The newspapers are full of the wickedness which is the
usual fruit of natural man – sin and strife. How is it possible then that hearts become merciful,
kind, gentle, and loving? This true mercy can come only through the mercy which shows itself in
God's making us His children through faith in Christ.
Our eyes must first be opened to see what sin is. This the Holy Spirit does for us by
means of God's Word. There we see the Law which demands perfection. The Law demands
perfect love both toward God and our fellow man. But as we learn to know that Law, we see how
we continually break it. Continually, we find ourselves putting our desires before God's.
Continually, we find ourselves putting ourselves ahead of our neighbor – way ahead. We
disobey the laws which the government has enacted to serve and protect its citizens. We
become angry with others without good reason. By carelessness we endanger others. Our
minds are filled with unclean thoughts. We envy others because of their material possessions.
We find it so easy to say unkind and doubtful things about our neighbor. Truly, God's Law shows
us that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
And unless we have learned to know this truth, we cannot be merciful as God expects us
to be. But we need to know more, also. God's Word teaches us that – although we have fallen
short of the glory of God and are lost and condemned sinners by our own deeds – help has
come. Jesus Christ has been sent into the world to save just such lost and condemned sinners.
He took all their sins upon Himself. He suffered and died to pay the penalty for all of them. “The
blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 Why? Certainly not
because we deserved it. No, simply because God loves us.
If then our eyes have been opened to our sin (think of some particular sin for which we
are deeply sorry and very ashamed), and if we know that we deserve only punishment and yet
have received that assurance of forgiveness through God's Word, and have heard that God, for
Jesus' sake, loves us and wants us for his own and receives us as His dear children, then we
can say “I have received mercy” - then God has succeeded in melting our hard hearts and given
us hearts capable of showing the mercy toward others. With that hardness the compulsion to
judge others has gone also. We are led to understand that other people are fellow sinners such
as we, who also need God's mercy. And in gratitude for God's mercy, we help them to find and
enjoy that same mercy. What God has done for us should help us show mercy.
It should also help us be merciful when we consider what God has not done to us. Just
think how it would go with us if God looked upon us with the eyes of a stern Judge instead of
with the eyes of a merciful Father. Just think what would happen if He revealed all our hidden
sins and judged us according to them! The result is no secret. We would be instantly and justly
condemned to eternal damnation. But this God does not do. Through faith in Jesus, all those
sins are put away. Instead of damnation we have salvation, not because we deserve it, but
because of God's mercy. And since we sin much every day, we greatly need that mercy every
When we come to see how vital it is that we be not judged according to our sins but must
have forgiveness, then we lose our desire to judge and condemn others. To be sure, that desire
is stubborn and it takes great effort over long periods of time to lose it. But as Christians we will
make the effort. Don't we often find ourselves imperfect in this respect? Isn't it easy to be silent
about the neighbor's good points? Isn't it easy for our tongue to put the worst construction upon
what our neighbor says or does? Don't we all find it far too easy to believe the evil reports about
our neighbor and to spread them? Don't we catch ourselves rather enjoying the shame of
others? It is all too true. But it should not be so. When such temptations come upon us, let us

take a good look at ourselves. Can we stand to be judged? Haven't we been more or less guilty
of every sin we find in our neighbor? And haven't we been freely forgiven every one of those
sins by God? He will never mention those sins again. They are forgotten as far as He is
concerned. If we find ourselves too prone to judging others, it may be that we have not yet
understood our own great need for God's mercy.
The person who knows this need for God's mercy will not be found judging or
condemning others as if he could read hearts. He will not seek revenge and repay evil for evil,
but will forgive and try to forget. When he sees that there is need, he will gladly give it as a child
of God who has everything that he possesses by the mercy of God. This person won't help
others for the sake of reward, yet he is promised a most gracious reward, “good measure,
pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.” And how true it is that the person
who is kind and gentle, who never has a bad word about anyone, who always has a good word
about everyone, who is quietly helpful when his neighbor has need – has a reward even in this
life. Without trying for it, he has the goodwill, the respect, the concern for his welfare of even the
children of the world about him. And if we are of this mind by God's help, then we will not think
ourselves to be any better than others. When we humbly see our sins, we aren't fooling
ourselves and playing the hypocrites.
Though our text exhorts us to “judge not”, it is not ruling out all judgments. Scripture
requires us to judge whether the outward acts of people conform to the will of God or not. If they
do not, it is our Christian duty to lead them to see their error and change their ways. When they
repent, they are to be assured of forgiveness.
There are those who think that it is good for the neighbor if they do not forgive him too
quickly – that he ought to pay a little, that he shouldn't get off too easily. It is such people whom
Jesus has in mind when He refers to the blind who want to lead the blind. Those who act like
this toward the erring brother often only confirm him in his error and make him more bitter than
he was before. The erring neighbor is not won with harshness and loveless judging. If he knows
the words of Jesus concerning the beam and the mote, the erring neighbor will look upon his
judge as a hypocrite and reject his council.
Sin is deeply entrenched in a man's heart. The way to help that person find the better
way, Jesus, is not by making it clear that you are better than he is. If we forget that we, too, are
sinners who need God's mercy, that we are fellow sinners with him whom we try to help, then
there we are with the beam in our eye, totally incapable of doing anything to help the neighbor. If
we think that we can help him, we are just fooling ourselves.
Therefore, let us look to ourselves first, lost and condemned sinners who have been
redeemed by our Savior, Jesus Christ. Let us be sure that we know just exactly what we are in
God's sight, justified entirely through faith by the work of the Holy Spirit. And let us not be
concerned only about our outward appearance, but how we look inside – our thoughts and
desires. While we realize that we are totally dependent upon God's mercy, we will find it much
easier to be merciful to our neighbor. And if we see that he needs help and guidance, that he is
in danger, the way we talk to him will show him that it is love and concern which leads us and
not blind pride and the compulsion to judge. Then, little by little, we advance with God's help
along the way of becoming merciful, as our Father in heaven is merciful.
May God help each of us to BE MERCIFUL. Amen.
The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through
Christ Jesus. Amen.