Are you willing to share?
“Mine, mine!” Is a commonly heard yelling, out of a child, with a face scowling-red with rage; who doesn’t care to let another child or adult have what they think they have bought their right to. We are usually quick to remind these little ones that they have to share, or take turns so as to be fair. They are hardly convinced until we offer them some kind of reward. Some might think it’s “cute” or “funny”, but left unchecked, selfishness can lead to many injustices in a society, biases, oppression, and discrimination. Are we any different from children about the things we have, or our perceptions of others as being undeserving?
Kindness through mercy, is an individual trait— not a groupthink. Religion can’t conform anyone to be merciful, neither will rank in society. Those who are merciful are moved by compassion; their motivation is to meet a need. It’s ingrained in them to want to care for others. Mercy needs no coercion.
30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” 37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise (Luke 10).”
This verse is preceded by a lawyer wanting to know, if he is to love his neighbor as himself, who would qualify as a neighbor. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is a commandment to give to others what we wish would be given to us—if we were in their shoes.
The priest and Levite were well-learned in God’s Commandments. As a matter of fact, they stood before God on behalf of the people. Yet, they failed to exercise that which they claimed they had learned since their childhood. We see, being religious was not enough to compel them to be compassionate. It’s not up to “certain religious people”, to do something, when we can also do something ourselves. We know what God would have us do. Mercy is the application of God’s ways.
The victim’s own kind wouldn’t touch him with a ten-foot pole. The Samaritan who didn’t share some of Jewish beliefs , and was considered an outcast by the Jews, came to the aid of one. Samaritans and Jews would never come in such close contact. Yet, this Samaritan put this man on his animal, while he himself walked. He tended to his wounds, and put him up at an inn, and paid whatever was needed to bring about his recovery. Racial biases set aside, religious differences thrown over, inconvenience made inconsequential , in order to save this man’s life.
You don’t have to belong to a particular Church to show mercy; but you have to be moved by compassion for the suffering. We should not be defined by the Church we attend and the activities it does. This is Who Christ was: He knew The Father’s will and didn’t have to observe religious programs or customs, to meet people’s needs. He went about looking for the poor, the sick, the forsaken, to bring them hope and healing. So, if we are the Body of Christ, we are commanded as the verse above, to do likewise.
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (Matthew 25).”
It’s perfectly fine for us to take away toys from children who are unwilling to share. Why then, isn’t it right for the Lord to mete out a punishment for those who are unmerciful? If everything belongs to us, in our homes, then we have a right to take things away if siblings aren’t concerned to share. So it is with everything we have, all of creation belongs to the Creator; we are like tenants. Punishment is usually worse for the children, because they should know better. For us believers, the consequences of not helping those in need will cost us our eternity. The Lord wasn’t mincing words. He closely associates and becomes one with the needy. Well, so much for no coercion. If we could see our giving as an expression of worship, we would be more obliged. What we give out of kindness, is giving back to God what rightfully belongs to Him.
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.(Matthew 25)’
Mercy is an offering from the heart. It’s acceptable to God before His Throne, and carries with it a reward. We should meet needs cheerfully, knowing that the Father keeps a memorial of our kindness to those in need. He blesses those who are willing to give, because they become His means to reach the less privileged. He uses our mercy towards others, to show mercy to us. By being merciful, we put down a deposit for our future hope.
Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. 2 The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be blessed on the earth; You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.3 The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed (Psalm 41).
Mercy holds a high place in God’s standing, especially as a form of worship. It can unlock the windows of heaven to pour out blessing, or it’s lack, can shut out our prayers from reaching God. It tests our attitude to material things that God has given us. By the measure we are willing to give, is the measure of our thanksgiving. True worship can never be without mercy.
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens. To let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning. Your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you. The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am’ (Isaiah 58).
Surely, will God not supply for what He wants us to do? Sometimes we worry too much about tomorrow, when we have what we need for today. Someone may not have what they need urgently, but we withhold from them what we think we need in the future. While we claim we trust God, we fail to let go, so that someone else may learn to trust Him and prove His Faithfulness. This is like killing two birds with one stone: We are failing to give someone else an opportunity to experience God’s Goodness, by being unwilling to let God use us to meet their needs.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,” When you have it with you (Proverbs 3).
A grudge can be a hindrance to being merciful. The person needing help may have done us wrong before, and we may not see it befitting to offer them anything. In fact, it may seem like their struggles are their just deserts. But we should be better than our enemies, for our egos sake, right? Then why not prove that, by being compassionate? There’s good and evil and we have to pick which side we come out on. Mercy looks beyond past differences. It defines us more than it defines the offenses done against us.
We will choose good in a world where others take pride in evil. We will give hope, where others would prefer to turn away. We will worship God with everything He has given us, so that they may see The Living God Lives through His people.
20 Therefore, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12).