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September 12, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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Have you experienced God’s mercy? Being raised in a Christian home, I always heard the terms grace and mercy, but never really understood the difference until a friend explained it to me. I learned that grace is simply receiving something you don’t deserve (like when God chooses to bless us even when we’re rebellious), but mercy is not receiving something we do deserve (like punishments for sins we commit). It was only when I understood and placed my faith in God’s mercy that my world began to change.
In today’s verse, Jesus responded to the criticism He received when He called Mathew to be His disciple. During this time, the people in Palestine were roughly divided into two groups: the Orthodox Jews who meticulously practiced and kept the law and the rest of society who didn’t uphold every minute regulation. The Orthodox Jews, known as Pharisees, treated everyone else like second-class citizens. They refused to do business with them, refused to intermarry, and avoided them at all costs. Jesus startled the Pharisees by showing mercy to and intentionally pursuing the company of the very same people they rejected.
In calling Matthew to be one of His disciples, Jesus picked one of the unlikeliest men—a tax collector who, because of his profession, was hated in their society. As the Pharisees noticed, they began to criticize and ask Jesus’ disciples why their Teacher associated with “tax collectors and sinners.” Jesus’ response was quite simple: A doctor doesn’t need to visit a healthy person; instead, he goes to the sick (Matthew 9:12). Jesus likewise pursued and showed mercy towards those in greatest need.
Jesus’ focus was to care for people and restore their spiritual life. While the Pharisees were busy practicing their religion, they neglected to help the very people who needed spiritual care. Ultimately, it was selfishness and pride that kept them from having anything to do with people they considered lower than themselves. But oftentimes, those who seem the most hopeless are the ones who truly recognize their need for a Savior.
The Bible makes it clear that all have sinned and are in need of God’s mercy. Are you sharing His mercy with those around you, or have you become preoccupied with religious routines?
DIG: Do you intentionally spend time with others outside of your Christian network? Is there one person in your life who you are showing the mercy of Jesus to?
DISCOVER: Sharing your testimony doesn’t have to be intimidating. Take a moment to write how you came to know Jesus and practice sharing it!
DISPLAY: Start your day by thanking the Lord for the forgiveness He’s shown you and allow that gratitude to flow into your daily conversations. Sharing the forgiveness you’ve received could be one of the most natural and attractive methods of evangelism!