Luke 6:36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
In a sense this sums up the preceding 9 verses, and it brings to mind another slightly more famous command to be like God: “Be Holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” (Leviticus 18:2) It is mind-boggling that we are called, commanded, to be like God. After all, we are finite and He is infinite; we are fallible and He is infallible. The list could go on and on. However, we forget that we are created in His image (Genesis 1:27) and thus are logically supposed to be like Him. We can’t possibly do it in our own strength, but by His grace His character can indeed be manifested in and through us, if we will be fully submitted to Him. The whole issue of human free will comes into sharp focus here. We can’t do it on our own, but we have to choose to allow Him to do it in and through us. He is absolutely sovereign, but He has chosen to allow us to choose whether we submit to Him or not. That’s what the Garden of Eden was all about. If we choose to disobey, all sorts of consequences follow, but if we choose to obey, His grace overcomes our weaknesses and failures. He is indeed merciful, and He calls us to be likewise.
As is all of life on this earth, this is aspirational rather than any sort of done deal. Salvation itself is a done deal, provided in Christ through the cross and received by faith, but otherwise, like Paul we have to say, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14) Jesus tells us to be merciful, so when we discover we are being less than merciful, we need to repent and ask forgiveness, choosing afresh to be merciful and so receiving God’s mercy. I’ve got to remember that as much as anyone, never thinking that because I teach others I’ve already got it down pat.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I have not always been merciful over the past three weeks, and people have suffered for it. Forgive me, and heal their wounded spirits. Help me be an increasingly accurate representation of Your Son, so that more and more people my be drawn to receive Your grace for themselves, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!