Feb 13

You Have Heard: Blessed Are the Merciful

God is merciful to you, so be merciful to everyone else. It’s a pretty simple equation, so you would think it’d be easy enough to put into practice. What we find, however, is that Christians struggle with being merciful. Instead of plucking the log out from our own eyes, many of us spend our lives hunting, like hawks, for the specks in the eyes of our neighbors. Instead of offering the bread of mercy to our children, the truth is we do sometimes give them the snake of judgmentalism. Rather than opening the door to those who knock and seek, we slam it shut. God is merciful to you, so be merciful to everyone else. The simplicity of the equation is belied by our repeated failures to hold up our side of the formula. Continue reading

Oct 24

The Difference Humility Makes

There once was a man who sat in church and heard the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector at prayer in the temple. And after the service was over, the man went over to the Sunday School class he attends each week. In Sunday School, they started off—as every good Sunday School class should do—by talking about the morning worship service and the sermon and the gospel reading. And the man said, “You know, I am so glad that we follow Jesus Christ, and I am so happy that we know that we are not saved by works. I thank God that we are not like those Pharisees who kept pestering Jesus all the time.” Continue reading

Jul 25

A Plea for Mercy

Mercy. The high point of true prayer is not when we pray for our own needs—not in this life. The deepest prayer is not for ourselves, not for our desires, not for what we want, not for the increase of this or that. The deepest, truest, most Christian prayer we can offer, in this life, is the prayer for mercy. Mercy. Continue reading

Mar 07

The Lord’s Prayer 4: Forgive, As We Forgive

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” What a thing to pray! Of all that Christ insists we do as his disciples, forgiveness can be the most challenging. The friend who has betrayed you. The sibling who won’t speak with you. The neighbor who threatened to sue you. The enemy who tried to kill you. Forgiveness is never easy for us; sometimes, it feels impossible. Yet this is the point in the Lord’s Prayer when we ask God to hold us accountable, to hold us to a standard. Not: forgive us our sins. Not: have mercy on us. Forgive us, as we forgive. Give us according to how we give. Use our faithfulness as a measure of your grace, o Lord. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Continue reading