Summary: This sermon shows practical ways to show mercy and be a peacemaker.

4th epiphany 2011

Matthew 5:1-12

Merciful peacemakers.

Do you have an attitude problem? Who doesn’t at certain times or on certain days? Something perturbs you and it begins to show in your attitude. It can happen most anytime in the day.

I want to start with a true story about a man who said that one particular event cured him of being obnoxious in a restaurant. He had ordered a steak well done. But when they brought it to him and he cut into it and it was rare. The blood was running out of it.

He waved at the waitress and said, “Come here, come here.” She came and he said, “This steak is too rare.” So she took it to be cooked some more. When she brought it back he cut into it again, but they had overcooked it. Again he waved for the waitress, “Come here. Look, it’s almost burnt to a crisp.” So she took the steak, went to the kitchen and got him another one.

He started cutting it and then waving once again for the waitress, he complained, “It’s too tough. I can’t eat it. Take it back.” So she took it back and brought him yet another one. With the waitress standing there, he cut into that steak and it was just right this time.

Then he cut into his baked potato and it had a black spot in it. Turning to the waitress, he said, “Look at this potato. It’s a bad potato!”

Well, the waitress, who evidently had just about had it at this point, picked up the potato and started to spank it and said, “Bad potato, bad, bad, bad!” Then she put the potato back down on his plate and said, “If you have any more trouble with that potato, just let me know.” And she walked off.

He said that was the last time he ever complained in a restaurant. Sometimes, chronic complainers have an attitude problem that many of us have to deal with.

How do you deal with difficult people? For that matter, how do you deal with anybody in life? Good, bad or otherwise?

In the beatitudes Jesus gives us two ways to deal with difficult people and all people for that matter. Those ways are: 1- Demonstrate mercy and 2- Pursue peace.

Let’s look at the first one. DEMONSTRATE MERCY

Matthew 5:7 says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Let me illustrate this. A young lady who occasionally walked through the park after work, stopped to have her picture taken by a photographer on this particular day. She was very excited about her picture being taken. As she walked out of the park, she looked at the Polaroid picture in total amazement. She turned and headed back to the cameraman. When she got there she stated, "This is not right! This is not right! You have done me NO justice!"

The photographer looked at the picture and looked at her and stated, "Miss, you don’t need justice, what you need is mercy."

We all need mercy for something, perhaps more for our behavior than for our looks. And we may be quick to ask for mercy from God but are we quick to demonstrate mercy to others?

The reason why I ask this is, there are many things that we live with in our own lives, but we can’t seem to stand them in other people’s lives: bad temper, frivolous lifestyle, lack of commitment, etc.

But the good news is, the church is for sinners and is made up of sinners. Of course, mostly sinners that are saved by His grace, but all sinners should be welcome. However, some churches are quick to boot people out if they don’t live up to their standards.

I have heard of and seen horror stories where people have been driven out of a church for one thing or another. No mercy was demonstrated, only rugged legalism. But Jesus said, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

In Matthew 23:23 Jesus condemns the religious leaders of His day when it says, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

You see, the Pharisees of old were scrupulous or careful when it came to observing religious laws, but they were NOT good about showing mercy and mercy was what the Lord wanted them to demonstrate.

How can we forget the example of the woman caught in adultery in John 8? The Pharisees wanted to stone her because that was according to the law. But Jesus did just the opposite. HE DEMONSTRATED MERCY. Jesus broke His own law to demonstrate mercy. Perhaps this should tell us something about God.

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