Summary: If we are to be merciful as Jesus commands in the beattitudes, then we must allow God to write His commands on our very hearts.
The Pilgrim’s Path Part-5, Mathew 5:1-12
Written on their Hearts
There are few things of human engineer which are more beautiful to watch than the marching of the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team. To see them move in perfect sink is astounding as they pivot on a dime, all in unison or in perfect order, as they loft their hand-polished, 10 and one-half pound, M-1 Garand rifles with fixed bayonets, through the air and catch them; often throwing them to one another.
With every step that is taken there is the smooth swooshing of their uniforms and the quick snap of their shoe heals as they come back together in seamless unison and the tight rap of their hands slapping the stock of their rifles. As a Marine Corps photographer stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona, I had the privilege of documenting photographically their winter dessert training.
I and the other photographers whom I worked with knew the sounds of the silent drill team very well. Our fathers, in their theology, expressed the sounds of the precision and snap of God’s actions; they have passed down to us a great legacy of the stirring sounds of the wrath of God. Many Modern ears, however, have heard only the soft swooshing of God’s favor, but have not listened for the rifle and the sharp click of the heel.
The beauty of the sovereign God of creation, though, is understood most full in the light of all who He is. He is just, but He also loves. He is strong, but He is also slow to anger and abundant in mercy. Kindness without justice is mere sentiment. Justice without mercy has no power to move or change the stubborn heart. The cross is the only place where the picture is in focus. God’s justice and mercy come together in His love for us sinners.
We speak often of grace as we gather here in the house of God but what of mercy. Are they exchangeable ideals? Are they but perhaps two sides of the same coin? Grace is how God has dealt with our sin. Mercy is how God deals with us. Grace is the act of God in granting sinful humanity a pardon from the penalty for sin.
Mercy is God’s love expressed to us even as we deal with the consequences of our own sin. In other words, Grace is the means by which Christ died for provide for us atonement and forgiveness for sins; mercy is Christ present with me, carrying me, holding me, assuring me, while I walk through the storms of this life.
This morning we will follow along the Pilgrim’s Path one step further, examining the fifth principal along the way of the Master. In Matthew 5:7 Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Today, we will open our ears to the sounds of mercy marching alongside us as we travail the roads of life.
If we are to walk full in the knowledge of His strength, His holiness, and His justice; then we also must learn to reside in and rest in His grace, His forgiveness, and His mercy. Mercy is something to be experienced because mercy is grace’s practical counterpart. Often we confuse the two as though they were the same.