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Devotion #22 – Saturday March 5

The Mercy Dilemma – “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7
Have you ever noticed something odd about how we respond when people offend us? Our natural reaction? Our first gut feeling is to respond in kind, return ill will for ill will, to rise to the same level of spite with which we’ve been treated. Why is that? We know the available options. We could respond with equal offense; we could choose to simply not care; or we could respond with a demonstration of mercy. Almost invariably, our first reaction is to meet evil with evil. We’re offended first, and then we have to talk ourselves into a gracious attitude and a merciful response. It’s never the other way around, where we first feel merciful and wonder why we aren’t offended. The natural self has its preferences, and this is one of its strongest. The options are before us, but the impulses know of only one. Somehow, we must reverse the impulses. We must think of mercy first. How? How can we alter something so ingrained, so unyielding a part of our sinful nature? How can mercy become more natural to us than our sense of vengeance?
The key is to ask the question that’s really underneath others: How can we be more like God? Moses asked for a glimpse of God, and as God passed by, He defined Himself as “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” That’s the core of who He is. That’s what we’re really asking here; how can we be more like that? Two options: Try to reform the sinful nature or we can ask God for His nature. First approach has never been proven successful. Give it up. Our only remaining option is to ask God. He offers us His nature. We must ask and believe He will give it. He always does.

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