King David did it while running for his life from King Saul (I Sam. 21:6).  Jesus referenced it while reproving the Pharisees (Matt. 12:1-8). David the hero of old along with his band of misfits had in desperation eaten the shewbread for the purpose of sustenance—a common meal. The Pharisees had no problem with that, but sought to create a problem when Christ with His disciples gathered a little grain from the corners of the fields to sustain themselves along the way on the Sabbath. Jesus said if you had only known what this means and quoted from Hosea 6:6 and Micah 6:8—God’s teaching on mercy, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice.” The problem was a lack of knowledge with understanding.

Jesus said, “blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt. 5:7). He was “outwardly compassionate” [merciful]. He had compassion to understand and to help people. He understood the severity of sin, but also the frailty of man. He sought to help. God’s mercy brought Him into this world. Christ’s mercy kept Him through unmerciful suffering and needless shame endured to help you and me. Mercy is a weightier matter (Matt. 23:23).

The hypocrites of Christ’s time could ignore the needy (Matt. 12), abuse parents (Matt. 15:1-9) and taint judgment (Matt. 23:3), but could endlessly accuse the Christ. They in their self-righteous pomp, had no mercy. Mercy emanates from God.  That’s why it is so important. One has to work to develop this godly trait. You were not born with it.  No small child has it. If you haven’t noticed, babies and small children are very selfish. Mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, have to teach them to be merciful. The strongest form of teaching is by example.  It is teaching by the power of suggestion.  So, how about you? What would Christ’s instruction be to you?

It is very important to understand that mercy is not a license to sin. It’s the understanding of human weakness, and desire to offer timely help (Gal. 6:1).  The basis for such understanding comes from our own frailty. We all sin and fall short (Rom. 3:23).  Everyone has the potential to be lost, so no one is exempt. Sometimes the elite of society are the lowest of sinners (Dan. 4:17b).

Judgment is a weighty matter, and a very important component to mercy.  Proper judgment is perhaps the most difficult part of Christian living.  So much for the foolishness of “a Christian should not judge” [misuse of Matt. 7:1]. Those who run around telling everyone not to judge are themselves judging everyone all the time. We are called to judge righteously (John 7:24). Guides for good judgment are: having the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5), living for Him in purity (I Pet. 1:16; 2:9), a continual growing in Christ (II Pet. 3:18), and learning how and when to forgive (Matt. 18:20-21).

Jesus calls all to mature faith built upon weightier matters. It takes work and lots of it which may explain the lack of mercy seen in some Christians including elders, deacons, and preachers.  Don’t neglect the weightier matters, in 2023 let’s be more like Jesus.

-David Hill