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For starters, I'm not good at being merciful. God has graciously gifted me in areas that I can say I'm good at. Being merciful is not one of them. It takes real energy, real concentration for me to show mercy. Especially to stupid people. Okay, that's probably not nice, but I'm going for honesty here. This is why God is God and I am not. Those complainers walking around the desert--wanting to go back to Egypt? Yeah. They'd get what they asked for. A remnant? I probably couldn't do it. And I definitely wouldn't have given them David as a ruler when they didn't want me, their God, the one who didn't off them after their antics in the desert.
When God gives me opportunity to be merciful, I try. Oh Lord do I try. But if the person has a history of stupid, I find myself in an awkward position. Can I be merciful and not be stupid, too? And what does that look like?
Maybe that's what this next verse will teach me?
I found this at StudyLight.org, a study about the word mercy.
The passages before the one I've chosen talk about loving your enemies, the ones following are the speck of dust and plank in the eye lesson, the blind leading the blind, and this: "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."
So even though it's time to move on to another verse, this one still haunts me.
The problem is, how does one keep toxic people out of their life, yet live as Christ?
My first inclination is to think of how Jesus dealt with the Pharisees. Because these toxic people I'm speaking of have much in common with the Pharisees. Jesus taught them when he could, but did not force them into reconciliation. He didn't make them have a relationship with him. He simply spoke the truth and...spoke the truth consistently.
And obviously, if I'm told to love my enemies--that means I will undoubtedly have enemies.
So does that mean that I have to be on cordial speaking terms with everyone in my life?
My opinion is no. Especially when I read the next verses I'll be Visually Praying with and the passages that follow. I believe God gave us discernment for a purpose. I believe that if I saw a berry growing from a bush I knew from past history produced poisonous berries--I believe that I should not eat of the fruit from said bush.
If a tree is known by its fruit, if a good man brings good things up from his heart and an evil man brings evil from the evil stored in his heart, then I think that removing these toxic people from my life is the right thing to do. I shouldn't pick the bad berries and hope they're not poisonous anymore.
My next verses for March 1-15 in bold below:
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.