The Prophet Micah places “do justly” as #1 on God’s list of what is good and what He requires of Kingdom Disciples. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice. However, they may find themselves face to face with the unjust, with the oppressors. What then?
The temptation is to give into anger, hatred, even violence. Don’t do it! “Love mercy” is #2 on the list. The Kingdom response is to show mercy. Perhaps the greatest act of mercy is to forgive.
My Zimbabwean coworker, Enock, told me a story about one of his heroes, Nelson Mandela. Before becoming President of South Africa, Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his efforts against South Africa’s notorious racial injustice. Horrible atrocities were committed against his fellow non-white citizens. Rather than stewing in bitterness during his imprisonment, Mandela chose mercy and forgave the oppressors. He later said “Forgiveness liberates the soul.” It freed him to treat his enemies with further acts of mercy. He invited his white jailer to attend his presidential inauguration as an honored guest.
With a forgiving heart we can show mercy to others, no matter who they are or what they have done.
Earlier this year I was in a Muslim country visiting my friend John (not his real name). When John was a little boy, religious extremists murdered his father who was a follower of Jesus. They burned down his shop, leaving a widow with no way to support her orphaned children. As a young man, John overcame fear and bitterness, reaching a point of deeply forgiving those who persecuted his family. He found love and mercy growing in his heart toward Muslim people. He dedicated his life to spreading the blessings of the Kingdom of God within Muslim communities.
His warm smile and friendly manner helps people respond well to his stories about Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah). His acts of mercy, such as the water project in this photo, demonstrate the love of God in visible ways. Many are turning to Jesus and becoming Kingdom Disciples who will follow John’s example spreading the blessings of God’s Kingdom within their families and among their neighbors.
Question for reflection: Jesus said the merciful will be shown mercy. He put it another way, “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) What individual or group do you need to forgive?
Kingdom prayer: Lord Jesus, have mercy upon us. Give us hearts like Yours: forgiving, merciful and compassionate. Amen.