Oh Mercy

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May 8, 2019

Jude 22-13 (NLT)

And you must show mercy to those whose whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.

CONSIDER THIS

We made it. We’re finally here. How do we actually deal with those we see as false? How do we actually defend the faith?

Show mercy. That’s it. 

Mercy is showing compassion or forgiveness to someone you have the ability or power to harm. 

Defend with mercy. That’s it. 

But can we be honest and admit that defending anything in 21st century America tends to show no mercy? Defending the faith looks an awful lot like defending our politics or our rights: Lots of outrage, posturing, arguments, Twitter trolling, score keeping, and cynical condescension. It looks like exercising our ability to do harm, winning at all costs by decimating your opponent with shame. 

But did you catch the story Jude told a few verses back about the Archangel Michael fighting with Satan? They’re arguing over Moses’ body, and the top angel won’t even shame Satan! Instead, he defends Moses saying, “The Lord rebuke you!” Put another way, “God will deal with you, not me.”

A mentor once gave me the best piece of evangelism advice I’ve ever heard, and it also works for defending the faith: Never confuse your role as a witness with the role of the Holy Spirit. Your job is simply to bear witness to Jesus. Their response is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility.

Let me say that again: Never confuse your role as a witness with the role of the Holy Spirit. Your job is simply to bear witness to Jesus. Their response is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility.

Remember all those folks we come in contact with that Jude dramatically described earlier as “dangerous reefs,” “doubly dead,” and “lost stars?” He says in verse 15 that “[God] will convict every person of all ungodly things they have done…

I’ll say it again: Never confuse your role as a witness with the role of the Holy Spirit. Your job is simply to bear witness to Jesus. Their response is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility.

Yes, we speak truth to power and stand up for what’s right. Preach the gospel and by all means call out false teaching. But if someone is false, my job is to tell them the truth, and the truth is the person of Jesus Christ. Let him deal with their reaction. 

There’s a difference between defending with shame and defending with mercy. To defend the faith with mercy looks like Jesus on the cross. It looks like the Sermon on the Mount. It looks like the prayer Jude opened this letter with, and the prayer we’ve been praying this whole time: Give us more and more mercy, peace, and love. After all, once we were enemies of God, but he showed us mercy through Jesus (see Romans 5:10).

A couple of days ago we said knowing is half the battle, and the battle is the Lord’s. So now you know the other half: God will deal with them. Not you.

But wait, there’s still one more thing to remember. 

To be continued…

THE PRAYER

Jesus, give me more and more mercy, peace, and love. Help me to not confuse my role as a witness with the role of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

THE QUESTION

How have you confused your role as a witness with the role of the Holy Spirit?

For the awakening,
Omar Al-Rikabi

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Omar Rikabi is a United Methodist Pastor serving in North Texas. When not telling stories, Omar likes to watch movies with his wife Jennifer, read books with his three daughters, and work in the kitchen cooking and grilling for family and friends. You follow him on Twitter @omarrikabi or visit his blog omarrikabi.com

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