Today’s Reading: Luke 10:1-37
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:14-15
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” – Matthew 5:7
Mercy is, by definition, forgiveness. Merriam-Webster defines mercy as compassion, especially towards someone who has offended you, or compassionate treatment of someone in distress. If we want to experience mercy in our lives, we need a heart that is merciful toward others.
Not one of us is perfect. We have all sinned and we are all in need of a Savior – of mercy extended beyond what we deserve. It is this mercy that allows us entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven and the opportunity to begin experiencing eternal life right here on earth – mercy extended to us because we have a heart that extends mercy toward others.
One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
The man answered, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” – Luke 10:25-29
The man understood that he was to love God and he knew who God was. That part was easy. But how does Jesus define “neighbor”? The people who live by me? The people I work with? My family and members of my Church? The man was essentially saying to Jesus – define for me “neighbor” so that I can, by process of elimination, understand who is not my “neighbor”.
Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
“By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.” – Luke 10:31-32
If either of these men who worked in the temple came in contact with a dead body, they would be considered “unclean” and temporarily unable to serve in the Temple and offer sacrifices to God. Helping this man who was so close to death was risking ritual impurity.
Do I help the one if it means I cannot help the masses? How often do we use this as an excuse for not reaching out to someone in need? God, I’m so busy reaching out to those to whom you have called me. You must plan for someone else to help this person in desperate trouble because you have already given me this other call. We excuse ourselves from responding to one person by reminding ourselves of how much good we are doing in the lives of other people. We give ourselves permission to turn our back on one person’s need by focusing on the ministry we prefer. Lord, forgive me. I am so guilty of this.
“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, “Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
The man replied, “The one who showed mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” – Luke 10:33-37