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April 22, 2012 / Pastor George Fike

Love Mercy…

As we approach the first anniversary of the Navy SEAL raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden, I revisit my own feelings at hearing the news.  If you click on the photo (provided by REUTERS), a link will take you to a You Tube video showing celebrations throughout the US and other places in the world.  I remember the feeling of relief, even as I realized other terrorists would inevitably rise to fill this regrettable void.  But symbolically at least, we had righted one of the gravest injustices our country had ever faced.

But as I mentioned in my last post, it was an incomplete justice: not one of the 3000 souls killed in the 9/11 attacks found their way back to a happily-ever-after with their loved ones.  Justly, bin Laden himself will never be able to perpetrate such a crime again.  For that I am grateful; yet I cannot find it in my heart to rejoice that he is dead.  I don’t believe God rejoiced in his death.  He said in His word:

Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?  (Ezekiel 18:23 NIV)

Consider the heart of God when it comes to human conduct:

“I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:5-6 The Message)

God’s use of hyperbole is intended for us to understand the magnitude of His desire to show mercy rather than dispense justice.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious,  Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.  He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.  He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.  As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.  Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.  For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.  As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.  When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer.  But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children,… (Psalm 103:8-17 NAS)

Sometimes our zeal for justice blinds us to the opportunity we have to show mercy and the possibility that even the worst of sinners can change.

So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?  Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:3-4 NIV)

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)

For a long time now, I have believed it is better to err on the side of mercy.  If I am taken advantage of for it, God has my back; He’ll take care of the dispensation of justice.  He does a much better job of it.

As for me, these first two directives give me a clear path to follow Jesus:

  1. Do justly… Be PROactive, not REactive! Seek to bring comfort and care to the victims of injustice.
  2. Love mercy… Demonstrate to victimizers there is a better way to experience this life and it cannot be taken away!

– Next and final in series: Walk humbly…


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