The Dangerous End of the Merciless

One of my favorite functions on a computer is the “undo” function. Whether I find myself working on an email or even paper – mistakes always happen. Hours of effort can be saved by the push of a single button. Now I am quite found of older things. Truly I have a great love for typewriters; they seem so appealing. However, the technological limitations of a typewriter keep me quite glued to my modern computer. For example, in the midst of writing should one make an error there is no “delete” button on a typewriter. In fact, it is possible to run out of both white out and ink! I have grown too fond of the modern “undo” function to move backwards in this way.

Have you ever wished that life had an “undo” function? You say the wrong thing. You do something you regret. You stay quiet when you should have spoken up. We are taught that “to err is human” and thus we all could benefit from such an “undo” feature in our lives. It is true that we may not be able to “undo” our own personal failures. However, God uses us to help “undo” the failures of others. In other words, the poison that people spit at us does not need to stain our very hearts.

The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience to the Law, and death in our place has reconciled us to God, “Christ died for our sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God,” (1 Peter 3:18 ESV) As Christ has “undone” our sins by His death, burial, and resurrection so we in turn, as His people, are called to go, and do likewise. We cannot cover the sins of others before God by our death – only Christ can accomplish so great a task. But we can echo the love of God in Christ in extending the same selfless mercy to people who have wronged us.

When we think about the most difficult teachings of Christ we often think of the counter-cultural claims such as: God has designed marriage between one biological man and one biological woman or homosexuality as a sin, or that Jesus is God Incarnate. Rarely though do we think of this teaching on forgiveness to be the most controversial. And yet, in experience it is always one of the toughest pills of Christianity to swallow. As Christians, we are duty bound to reflect unto others the mercy God has given to us in Christ.

Space does not allow us to go through the depths of beauty found in the forgiveness as well as justice displayed in the parable provided to us by Christ. But the sum of it can be described in this way: what God has forgiven in us is inestimable, and for that reason, we must forgive others who have wronged us. Forgiveness cannot be seen as simply absorbing pain but in canceling the debt of another and doing so from the heart.

Jesus teaches us in His most famous sermon this great saying, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7 ESV) If this is true, the converse is also true, “Cursed are the merciless, for they shall receive justice without pity.” Have you tasted of the immeasurable grace extended to us in Christ? Have you had your deepest sins covered by the blood of Christ? If so, then you know that the only solution to cover your sins against a Holy God was the perfect sacrifice of Christ. If that is true, then we have no excuse to withhold forgiveness from those who have wronged us (cf. Luke 17:4). Let us reflect the mercy of Christ. It is our privilege to share with others what we have so freely received.

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