November 08, 2006

Are You Merciful? (2)

Genesis 50:15-21

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


One of the most beautiful illustrations of mercy is in the story of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph's brothers had sold him into slavery. They had told their father that his beloved son had been torn apart by a wild animal. But when a famine struck, the brothers went to Egypt to find food. There they learned that Joseph had been freed from slavery and was now a great ruler in charge of food distribution. (See Genesis 37-47.)

You'd think that Joseph would punish his brothers when he came face to face with them. But instead Joseph said, "Don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." Then "he reassured them and spoke kindly to them." Now that's mercy!

I have often met people who have been difficult to love. I'm sure I've been difficult to love at times too. I remember a young mother who was very critical of my sermons. I would go to visit her on occasion, and eventually we built enough of a trusting relationship that she told me her marriage was falling apart. She broke down and wept bitterly. In the past she had taken her hurt out on me and the church. After that day, it seemed that her perception of my sermons changed. What she really had needed was some mercy. Jesus calls us to be channels through which his mercy flows to others.

Lord, help us to understand that "mercy triumphs over judgment." Give us your wisdom and strength to be merciful today. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

About the author — Jerry Hoytema

Pastor Jerry Hoytema is a retired minister living in Ontario. In his retirement he has served several churches as an interim pastor. He and his wife, Winnie, have four children and 13 grandchildren.

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