Summary: In order to receive God’s mercy, we need to give mercy.
God Stories – Mercy Part II June 1, 2003
Receiving God’s Mercy
In Les Misérables the antagonist is a police man named Javert. He is a pitiful man who believes in judgment alone and not mercy. Last week we saw the clip from the movie where Jean Valjean receives mercy from the Bishop and I told you that he lives the rest of his life trying to give the same mercy he received. Javert, on the other hand tries to live his life on the basis of justice and the rule of law – he says things like “once a thief, always a thief.” At one point of the movie he makes a mistake and requires the mayor to punish him – his justice must even apply to himself – but the mayor (Valjean in disguise) has mercy on him, finally ordering him to forgive himself, because the chief of police must obey an order from the Mayor. He is forever in pursuit of Valjean to bring him to justice. At one point in the story Valjean is given the chance to kill Javert, and be rid of his pursuer forever. Instead, he has mercy on him and sets him free. In the final scene, Javert and Valjean meet up again
Javert cannot live with the reality that Valjean has been redeemed, and is a better man than he is, when he catches up with Valjean in the end, he sets him free and kills himself because he cannot live with the mercy that was shown him and the mercy that he gave.
Javert is a great example of how we cannot receive mercy unless we will give mercy. Javert would not give mercy for others or for himself. Mercy was such an offence to him that he literally could not live with it.
Jesus tells us that unless we give mercy, we will not receive it. On the positive side, he says “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7
Letter from Merrill that I received after that Sunday
I want to share with you what I saw during the last song that Fred played at the end of our Sunday service. I saw a lake with lots of boats on it. I believe one person was in each boat - sort of like a rowboat. I certainly know I had a boat and I believe others of our church family had their own boats. The boats were filled with cargo (boxes). I knew the cargo was made up of judgments etc. As a result there was no room to receive the grace the Lord had for us. I felt He was asking us to dump our cargo and let Him fill our boats with His grace.
Our judgementalism and God’s mercy cannot exist together
"The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
"The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, "Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
"The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, "Pay up. Now!’
"The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, "Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
"The king summoned the man and said, "You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy."
If our ability to receive mercy is contingent on our ability to give mercy, we better learn how to do it.
We start by dealing with our judgments.
The difference between judgment and discernment. There have been many people who have quoted Jesus in saying “Judge not lest ye be judged” as an excuse for all sorts of sinful behaviors. When Jesus says to not Judge, he means not to pass judgment on people, but we need to be able to judge between right and wrong. We don’t condemn people for bad behavior, but we do not sanction the behavior and allow unrepentant people a place of leadership.