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August 16, 2020 1:48 pm
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Audio on demand from Vision Christian Media.
Welcome to Turning Point, the more messy you are shown by those above you, the more merciful you are likely to be towards those around you tonight. Dr. David Jeremi considers this truth and other biblical insights on mercy teaching, as Jesus did through the power of storytelling. From how to be happy, according to Jesus, his David to introduce his message. Happy to help us.
And the Bible says, Blessed are the merciful. Do you know what that means? Have you ever received mercy yourself? Have you ever given it? We're going to find out what Jesus meant. As we look at these next two days together, happy are the helpers. Matthew, chapter five and verse seven. Well, we are working on the Beatitudes, as you know, the attitudes that were supposed to have the B attitudes, Jesus teaching on the mount. To his followers about life as it's meant to be. Today we talk about mercy. Happy are the helpers.
Sometime ago, Christianity Today reported that students from a certain seminary were a bit red faced over an article that was published in the Human Behavior magazine.
It all started out like this. A couple of researchers decided to find out if seminarians are really good Samaritans. So they met individually with 40 ministerial students under the pretense of doing a study on careers in the church. Each one of the students was instructed to walk to a nearby building and to dictate an impromptu talk into a tape recorder that was there.
Some of the students were told to talk on the Good Samaritan parable. And others were told to talk about their career goals. Meanwhile, the researchers who had set up this little experiment planted an actor along the path. And as the seminarians approached, this actor would groan and slumped to the ground. More than half of the students walked right on by. And for some reason, the ones who were planning their dissertation on the Good Samaritan literally stepped over the slumped body as they hurried along to record their little message.
The article was not very charitable to the seminary or its students, but I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised at that because we live in a generation of the closed heart and the closed hand and the closed house.
We have shut up ourselves to ourselves because we're so afraid to risk involvement. What are the traits of our day?
The hard, uncompassionate, isolated characteristics of our society which say, don't worry about anybody else.
Make sure you take care of number one. Don't open your eyes to the needs of people. You might get involved and you'll be sorry.
And then into that context, Jesus comes with his dynamite words, happy are the merciful, for they are the ones who receive mercy. The Greek word for mercy in the New Testament is the word Elián.
And it is a word which means to be compassionate and full of pity. It is a word that describes somebody who has a sympathetic heart. For instance, in the Book of Matthew in the ninth chapter, it's used to describe our Lord's compassion for two blind men. In the 15th chapter of Matthew, it is the compassion for a woman whose daughter is vexed with a demon in Matthew, 18, the word is used to describe a person who is deep in debt and the compassion that someone has for someone in that condition. And Matthew, 20, it describes mercy extended to two blind men.
And on it goes.
Showing mercy in the biblical sense of the term is the ability to manifest practical, compassionate, cheerful love toward the suffering members of the body of Christ. In most of the incidents that I was able to study the word, it seems to describe somebody ministering to those that we would consider to be less fortunate than ourselves in our world today. It would be the deformed and the crippled and the sick and the aged and the mentally ill, those who do not have the advantages that we might have.
And the Lord says that when we extend mercy to them, we are happy and we are blessed.
I have had a very difficult time getting my arms around this concept because it is an intangible, it is somewhat abstract. And the best way I know to explain to you what this truth means is to tell you some stories.
The first one is a story we all know well. We call it the story of the Good Samaritan.
It is the story of Preece, Levites and Jews and one beaten and bruised member of society who desperately needed their help. I do not intend to read the story or even to go back and tell it in all of its detail. But simply to remind you that this familiar record in the book of Luke reminds us that there are different ways to approach the problems of people. It is quite intriguing to me that the men who passed by, the person who was beaten, all of them in some form or another, represented institutional religion. But their concept of dealing with some fallen brother, some broken person, does not hold up religion for very good reviews.
They passed by on the other side.
They wanted nothing to do. They didn't want to get involved in the story that Jesus told. He put a lot of pressure on those other characters because the hero of the story is a Samaritan. Jesus couldn't have chosen anyone more loathsome to those who were to hear his story. Samaritans were hated and despised by the Jewish community. They were considered half breeds who had set up a foreign religion in competition with godly Judaism. And the hero of the story is one of those.
The Good Samaritan and Jesus forever memorialized that because all over the world today there are Good Samaritan hospitals reminding us that this was the one who stopped to meet the need of the fallen. Now in the story, all three of the men who passed by looked at the wounded traveler, but only one really saw him with eyes of compassion.
And the word compassion is a word which means a deep moving within. It is literally the outworking of mercy. The Bible says that Jesus saw this man through eyes of compassion. And when he saw this man in trouble, he reached out to him. The Bible tells us that he cleansed his wounds, that he poured alcohol on them as an antiseptic and oil to soothe the pain. Then he bound the wounds with care so that the man would heal rather than coldly going through the motions of carrying the Samaritan. That day exhibited real mercy and love. By gently and carefully taking care of the man's needs. And it wasn't easy and it wasn't free. You can't love someone out costing you something. You can't show mercy and not have it. To take something from you. If you read the story, you will discover that when the Good Samaritan helped this man, he gave up his transportation by giving it to the man who was Anine. He gave up his alcohol and oil by tending to the wounds. He gave up his schedule by taking the time to care for the stranger. He gave up his money because he paid for his stay at the inn. When you love somebody and you're going to show mercy to him, it will cost you something.
And Jesus exhibited that as he is obviously the hero of the story.
He himself is the Good Samaritan.
And the thing that is most interesting to me is that he touched him. He went over and physically helped him. He touched him. He didn't worry about the uncleanness because God is more concerned with the inward heart than the outward appearance. Now, when you get down to the end of the story, which I have summarized for you, there is a very interesting truth that Jesus gives to us. That ties right back into the Beatitudes. So go with me, if you will, to Luke, chapter 10 in verse 36.
Jesus is asking the lawyer who had posed the question at the beginning of the parable. This question, he says, So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves? And he said he who showed mercy on him and Jesus said to him, go and do likewise.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is Jesus exposition of this beatitude. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy themselves. Rebecca Manly Pipper, who is a wonderful writer.
I had an article published in Campus magazine, and in the article she tells about a young nurse who took her pilgrimage to understanding mercy in these ways. She was just getting started in her nursing career when she was thrust into a situation where there was a patient who could show no appreciation or response to her care. The patient's name was Eileen. She was totally helpless. She had had a cerebral aneurysm, broken blood vessels in the brain, and it left her with absolutely no control over her body.
As near as the doctors could tell, Eileen was totally unconscious, unable to feel pain and unaware of anything going on around her.
It was the job of the hospital staff and Eileen's nurse to turn her every hour to prevent bedsores and to feed her twice a day. And the way they fed her was with a kind of mush that was spread through a stomach tube. Caring for Eileen was the most thankless task you could have on the hospital staff. One day, an older nurse came to this young lady who was just getting started and she said to her, when it's this bad, the only way you can deal with it is to detach yourself emotionally from the whole situation. You just have to be cold toward it. You can't get involved because if you do, you will just be discouraged and stressed. And so the girl who was so unfortunately crippled was treated more and more as a thing and more and more as a vegetable, more and more as a non-human. But for some reason, the young nurse about whom Rebecca Pipit has written decided not to take the low road. She decided to take a different approach. She decided that she would not treat this person like everyone else had treated her. So she would come into the room when she was on duty and she would sing to her and she would encourage her and bring her little gifts, which she knew could never be opened. One day, when things were especially difficult and it would have been easy for the young nurse to take out her frustrations on the patient, she was especially kind. It was Thanksgiving Day and the nurse said to the patient, I was in a cruddy mood this morning, Eileen, because it was supposed to be my day off. But now that I'm here, I'm glad I wouldn't have wanted to miss seeing you on Thanksgiving Day. Do you know this is Thanksgiving? And just then the telephone rang and the nurse turned to answer it and looked quickly back at the patient and suddenly she saw something that they had never seen before. Eileen was looking at her and she was crying big damp circles, stained her pillow and she was shaking all over. That was the only human emotion that Eileen ever showed to anybody on that staff.
And a few days later, she died.
The young nurse closed her story in a campus magazine by saying, I keep thinking about her. It occurred to me that I owe her an awful debt except for Eileen. I might never have known what it is like to give myself to someone who could never give anything back.
That is mercy. Mercy is reaching out to those who cannot do anything for you.
Mercy is reaching out to those who have nothing to give back to you.
Mercy is loving them through the love and mercy of our God.
And the Bible says, blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. The Beatitude ends with the promise, as they all do.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. And here is an inescapable principle that is laid down in the word of God by Jesus Christ. With what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged, and with what measure ye meet it shall be measured to you again. Matthew seven verse two. If you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your father. Forgive your trespasses.
James to 13 says he shall have judgment without mercy that have shown no mercy.
I don't understand all of the trade offs, but there is a principle in the word of God that says somehow the way we exhibit the graces of God to others is determinative in the way we ourselves receive them.
Or to put it backwards.
We have the ability to express the mercy and grace of God. For one simple reason, and that is that we have ourselves experienced the mercy and grace of God in our lives.
There are two stories, and I told you the one.
The other. I want to read to you. And if you will, let me do it. I'd like to read it from Eugene Petersens. The message. This is a story that you will remember as I read it to you from this rather contemporary version. Eugene Peterson has put it in the language of the street, in the language we understand so easily.
It is found in Matthew 18. Just listen to me as I read it to you. At that point, Peter got up and got the nerve to ask the question, Master. How many times do I forgive a brother or a sister who hurts me? Seven, Jesus replied. Seven. Hardly. Try 70 times seven. The Kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants as he got under way. One servant was brought before whom he'd run up a debt of one hundred thousand dollars. He couldn't pay up. So the king ordered the man, along with his wife, his children, as goods to be auctioned off on the slave market. The poor wretch threw himself at the king's feet and begged, Oh, give me a chance and I'll pay it all back. Touched by his plea, the king let him off and he raced the whole debt. Well, the servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded you pay up and pay up right now. The poor wretch threw himself down and begged. Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back. But he wouldn't do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the entire debt was paid. When the other servants saw what was going on, they were outraged and they brought a detailed report to the king. Now listen up. The king, some of the man and said, You evil servant. I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn't you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who ask for mercy? The king was furious and put the screws to the man till he paid back his entire debt. That's sort of a modern way of saying what he did right there. And then the scripture says, and that's exactly what my father in heaven is going to do to each of you who doesn't forgive unconditionally anyone who asks mercy from you.
Wow. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Do you see the point of it?
How dare we not extend mercy to anyone who comes to us for mercy when so much mercy has been extended to us? Do you get the point of the story? We are the one who was forgiven. One hundred thousand dollars. It could have been ten hundred thousand dollars.
Ten million dollars. The point of the story is the debt was so great that it could not possibly have been paid in any human lifetime.
And so the king, who is our father in heaven, just he raised it. Jesus paid it all.
All to him. I owe.
Now, we who have been forgiven such a great debt walk around through life and everywhere we go, we see people who need mercy. And sometimes we recoil from the need. Don't wait. Let's just be honest. Have you bumped up against an incorrigible recently? Have you been next to an unlovely in the last week? Has someone come up and tried to hug your neck and you couldn't stand the stench of them, so you pushed them away?
You say, I don't like to be around people like that. Mercy is doing for others what God has done for you.
Mercy is just being a little God in your world, if I can use that term, it's just being the god of mercy and grace to the people who need the mercy and grace that you can give. You know, men and women, we are so hard on each other. We are really hard on each other. We don't allow too many mistakes, do we? We're pretty, pretty tough on one another. I love this old bit of doggerel that I have in my file from years back. It goes like this. There's so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us that it hardly behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us. You know, I kind of like that. That kind of gets to the core of the way we are. We need to be merciful and gracious to one another. We need to cut each other some slack. As one of my friends is. We've got to give each other some wabble room.
Well, you know, as you look at this truth from the word of God in the context of where we are today in this world of litigation and complaint and accusation, one of the things that has really become apparent to me as a teacher of the word of God and is a follower of Jesus Christ, people ask me all the time, how should we be during this time? And I want to say we should be different. We should just be different. We should model what it means to be a Christian, how to love one another. When people speak evil of us trying to find a way to to turn it around and do something good for them, you know, the coals of fire thing on their head, all of that, we should be different if we fall into the trap of the culture in which we live. We will never make any difference for Christ at all. And one of the great aspects of being different is being merciful. And I hope you're getting that as we study it. We have one more lesson on it tomorrow.
Be sure and be with us on this good station as we open our Bibles again tomorrow, too. To Matthew, Chapter five. Wednesday and Thursday, we're going to talk about happy hour, the holy. And then on Friday, happy are the healers. We have ten more lessons or so in this series taking us all the way to the end of the month of August. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time.
For more information on Dr. Jeremiahs series, How to Be Happy According to Jesus. Visit our Web site where we offer two freeways to help you stay connected. Our monthly magazine Turning Points and our daily e-mail devotional. Sign up today at David Jeremiah dot org slash radio. Now, when you do ask for your copy of David's new Bible study, John The Divinity of Christ. It's part of the Jeremiah Bible Study Series, perfect for group or individual study. And it's yours for a gift of any amount. You can also purchase the Jeremiah study Bible and the English standard and new international versions, as well as in standard or large print in the new King James. In your choice of several attractive cover options, visit David Jeremiah dot org forward slash radio for details. I'm Gary Whoot Flint. Join us tomorrow as we continue to be happy. According to Jesus, that's here on Turning Point. But Dr David. Jeremiah.
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