15 March, 2015

Lord Have Mercy

Being a southern girl, the term, "Lord have mercy" has been in my vocabulary since the day I was born.  Every time I hear it there is a southern drawl attached and quite possible the slow shake of one's head.  It seems to be a grandma's favorite expression.  And perhaps it's akin to "Bless his heart". Both of these expressions come from deep wells of emotion where exact words seem incomplete.  Lord have mercy.....Bless his heart. And so I begin ponder Jesus' words in Matthew 5:7
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy."

I've struggled with this word, mercy, for a week.  Reading and reading and trying to get my mind around it.  Jesus is instructing us to be merciful, to show mercy and that I understand, sort of.  But my dilemma is the how.  How do I live a life offering mercy.  Webster helped a bit, mercy is defined as:
lenient or compassionate treatment; compassion shown especially to an offender.  This definition helps me societally, politically and educationally in application.  But Jesus' call to us in this verse from the Bible goes much further.  It states for us to show mercy so that we receive mercy and this is where the truth gets real.  These words not only tell me to show great mercy to others but they also scream that we are in need of mercy....we need and will need "compassion shown to an offender".

As I explored the mercy word all week, one of my exercises was to search the Bible for this one word.  Over one hundred verses appeared but what struck me were several New Testament verses.
  • As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”Matthew 9:27 
  • A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”Matthew 15:22  
  • “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water.Matthew 17:15  
  • Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”Matthew 20:30 
  • The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”Matthew 20:31  
And then one final verse from Matthew:
  • “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." Matthew 23:23 
The first group of these verses all reflect people in deep, deep need.  They each have cried out to Jesus after having exhausted all other means of healing or hope in their lives.  They are blind, they are suffering, they are sick both physically and mentally.  The two blind men sitting by the roadside when hearing that Jesus was going by begin shouting to Him for mercy.  And even as the crowd told them to shut-up and stop screaming for Him, they screamed all the louder....have mercy on us.  These people knew their condition.  These people knew their inability to help themselves.  No self-help book was going to ease the pain they were suffering.  No education, no job, no relationship, no church membership, no sporting event, no bank account, no country club membership, no political party, no career....they needed mercy and only mercy for their conditions were broken and bleak.

A few chapters later, Jesus uses the word mercy to a group of very knowledgeable, smart and Godly men.  These teachers of the law had given their lives to knowing God and His scriptures but yet they seemed to have missed the point.  It seems that they were relying on knowledge alone.  And He asks, where is your mercy?  Do you know you need mercy?

I've asked myself and I'm asking you today: which group are you?  Are you the blind beggar screaming out for mercy? Do you realize your own brokenness and need for mercy? Or are you standing in your church pew having missed the point?

Honestly and ashamedly, I've tended to live my life as though, "I'm doing OK".  I've been able to work out my problems and worries...or so I have thought.  But yet, there was a day that I can remember screaming for God's mercy.  When we come to the end of ourselves and recognize our true need we scream and beg for mercy only He can give.  Several years ago, while in a prayer time I suddenly found myself on my knees and then flat on my face.  Begging and screaming for God to have mercy on me and on my son.  Shouting out for God to take me, take my daughter, take my husband but please have mercy on my son.  My precious son who was caught in addiction and pain.  Our family was broken and past the point of no return...I knew not much else that day but I knew of my condition and my great need for healing and mercy.  And then, He stopped and looked at me and gave me blessed mercy.

 Lord, have mercy.  Lord, teach me mercy.

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