Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

On their way to the trial, the assigned defense attorney said to the accused man, “Don’t worry. I will get you justice.” To which the accused man replied, “I don’t want justice. I want mercy!” When we are guilty we know what we deserve. Mercy is what happens when we don’t get what we deserve. It is epitomized by the laying aside of God’s grievance in His act of merciful salvation. He forgives us!

MercyIt is frequently said in Christian circles that marriage is under assault in America. And while it is true that society has redefined what we have known as traditional marriage and is no longer in agreement with Judeo-Christian values, it would be disingenuous to say that society is the source of the assault on marriage. Traditional marriage has been under assault from within. Yes, people who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ are becoming divorced at an alarming rate. The great Reconciler, who came to build a bridge between broken humanity and God, Who says to us that what God has joined no man should not separate, weeps at the unforgiveness that still prevails within the church – most notably in marriages.

“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)

How different would our lives be if we really believed what Jesus told us about Kingdom life? I have seen many couples come to a place where they are barely civil with one another. They come to church and sing worship songs and praise God for his mercy but show no mercy for one another. They neither give mercy, nor receive it. After the inevitable divorce they become enemies. Yet both will celebrate being reconciled to God without seeing the hypocrisy in they way they relate to one another.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

Peter tells men that our prayers are hindered when we do not honor our wives. If there were ever a place where honorable Christian life should be evident, it is marriage. It should be the ultimate example of faith, love and mercy. It proclaims God’s own mercy when two people, made in the image of God and terribly marred by sin, live reconciled lives with great mercy towards one another. In recognition of the mercy they have received, they extend mercy to one another.

“The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.” (Psalm 145:8)

Oh that His people would be so as well. Before we lament societies changing mores we would do well to learn what it means to be reconciled, forgiving people. We might discover new mercies in His faithfulness.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24)

About marknicklas

Mark Nicklas is a husband, father, son and follower of Jesus Christ. He is a pastor at Beaverton Foursquare Church and an adjunct professor at Multnomah University, where he earned his doctorate in Cultural Engagement. Like Jacob wrestled with God at Jabbok, this site is a place for talking about the identity of the church with respect to the cultures we live in. You are invited to share the journey.
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