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Text Box: The 5th Step: Let Your Compassions Never Fail!


Text Box: (Matthew 5:7 NIV)  Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
(Matthew 5:7 GWT)  Blessed are those who show mercy. They will be treated mercifully.
(Proverbs 28:13 NIV)  He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
(Jeremiah 3:12-14 NIV) “Return, faithless Israel,” declares the LORD, “I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,” declares the LORD, ”I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt-- you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,” declares the LORD.  "Return, faithless people," declares the LORD, "for I am your husband.  I will choose you…”
(Daniel 9:18 NIV)  Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name.  We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.
(Hosea 6:6 NIV)  For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
(Micah 6:8 NIV)  He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Text Box: The next three Beatitudes, from verses 7 through 9, represent attitudes of Kingdom-minded people toward each other and the rest of mankind.  In order for you to possess this mindset towards people (horizontal relationships) you first need to orient yourself toward God (vertical relationship) by making the first four blessings (Beatitudes), yours.
It is amazing to think that Jesus -- the Son of God -- became poor for me, mourned for me, was meek for me, and sought God’s approval for me.  Because of His attitude I am able to receive His mercy – which David acknowledged as far better than any mercy man can give (1 Chronicles 21:13).
Throughout the Old Covenant (Old Testament), men and women of God who were poor in Spirit, mournful, meek, and craved God’s righteousness; understood the Lord God to be more concerned that we seek mercy rather than justification by sacrifice (Micah 6:8; Psalm 51:16,17; Hosea 6:4-6).  Even Jesus challenged the people of His day to “…go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13) 
Being merciful is the natural spiritual progression for those who realize their spiritual poverty, mourn their condition before God, allow God to tame their heart, and seek the Lord with all their being.
In being merciful, you demonstrate where your heart is.  You disclose how you have followed the other beatitudes by recognizing your status before the Lord and subsequently mourn the poverty of others.  You turn control over to God so that He may use you to minister to others.  Your desire to be approved by God is so strong that you leave the comfort in the world to minister to others in the slums and gutters of life (both literally and figuratively).
The study of the Word without practicing it leads to deceitfulness of self (James 1:23-25).  You can become critical, legalistic, and bitter.  Being merciful allows you to escape being critical and judgmental of those who are trapped by sin. Mercy doesn’t allow your knowledge of Jesus to puff you up (1 Corinthians 8:1-3), rather, mercy allows you to put God’s Word into practice.  Only someone in the habit of being merciful can receive God’s mercy in return. No wonder Jesus is the Living Word, for He is the embodiment of God’s mercy!  AMEN!
(Hebrews 2:17 NIV)  For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

In His Footsteps © 1998                                                    



Text Box: The 5th Step: Let Your Compassions Never Fail!






Last week we learned how we must crave (hunger and thirst) to be approved by God (righteousness) by dying to self. Jesus teaches us in Matthew 5:7 to temper that righteousness with an attitude of mercy.  Let’s start this week by defining compassion.  Look up the word in a good dictionary.  Now look up justice and then mercy.  Now read Zechariah 7:9-12.  According to these verses, what is involved in judging rightly (administering true justice)?  What can happen to our judgment if we don’t show mercy and compassion?  What can happen to our judgment if we think evil (suspicious) of each other?   Why was God eventually angry with his people in verse 12?  True justice (righteousness) is accomplished by showing mercy and compassion.  We will learn more about making the right judgment when we study Matthew chapter 7.



Showing mercy involves you doing something about what you see happening.  This is the definition of compassion.  Compassion is mercy in action.  Letting a situation move your heart should cause you to take action.  Notice in Matthew 9:36 how Jesus reacted to the people He saw.  Why did He have compassion on them?  His awareness of their helplessness drew out His compassion. Could you learn to have compassion on someone if you were not aware of his or her particular plight?   Why or why not?  Our ignorance about people and ourselves often results in an antagonistic attitude toward particular situations.  This ignorance can also cause us to not be able to empathize or sympathize with others.  In the following passage we will see another definition of mercy.  Read Matthew 18:23-35.  What does Jesus equate with mercy in this parable (verses 33 and 35)?  Was the wicked servant compassionate? Do you think this wicked servant was aware of his position and his fellow servant’s position before God? Why was the wicked servant tortured? What happens if we don’t learn to be merciful (forgive each other from the heart)? Read Colossians 3:12-17.  What do you think “bear with each other” means?  Does it involve being inconvenienced, bothered and intruded upon? Being merciful and expressing mercy in your compassionate and forgiving attitude allows you to be able to bear with each other and reap joy from every situation.



Let’s see the function of compassion in 2 Corinthians 1:3-6.  According to these verses, what would you say that compassion produces?  What do you give someone when you show him or her mercy?  Here’s where we need to let our emotions draw us together.  Our emotions need to foster convergence, not divergence.  When we are compassionate people, compassion will warm hearts and open doors to people’s hearts and minds.  It is often our desire to be left alone, to not be bothered, that causes us to miss out on the blessings of being compassionate!  Read about this in Philippians 2:1-4. What should we be doing and what should we be looking to (verses 3 and 4)?  What is it that rules your mind most of the time, thoughts about what you are going to do for yourself, or what you are going to do for others?  Make a list of things you want to do for others, especially those who are unbelievers, because you are moved by their situation.  It could be someone at work who suffered a loss, or a neighbor who is sick, or a family member who has a need.  Pray about what you want to do and make a specific plan to do it.



Today, let’s examine a statement Jesus made in light of what we have learned so far about mercy: Matthew 9:13; 12:7 -- “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”  This statement Jesus refers to was originally made in Hosea 6:6.  We usually think that if we are sacrificing something for someone, we are loving them.  Today we shall see this notion has shortchanged and shortsighted everyone.  After reading carefully the passages in Matthew and Hosea, answer the following questions.  Can you discover why Jesus was quoting this verse from Hosea?   What point is He is trying to make?  Whom was He addressing?  The Pharisees were known to be very sacrificial (Matthew 23:13-39, esp. 23) but they had no love.  How did they show their lack of love in these two situations?  Did they show they cared about others or themselves?  Do you see how lack of compassion results in hypocrisy, legalism and self-righteousness?  Compassion produces holiness and purity.  Read Micah 6:6-8.  What is it that really pleases the Lord?  Can you see the beatitudes leading you in this direction?  If not, what are you allowing to get in the way?  Pride?  Selfishness (love of self)?



In Lamentations 3:21-32, we learn from Jeremiah, who is known as the weeping prophet, what compassion is all about.  Even though Jeremiah faced discouragement, persecution and harsh treatment from everyone (no Israelite ever repented while he was prophet) he was always reminded of God’s compassions and this gave him hope.  Notice that waiting (patience) is a hallmark here (verses 24, 26, and 28).  Learning about compassion will involve learning to be patient—waiting on the Lord!  This is your daily challenge!  This is only possible by realizing your mission of reconciling the lost to Jesus – through God’s Spirit and Power!  Look at the meekness and humility Jeremiah shows in verses 27-32.  No wonder Jesus paints us a word picture of mercy using the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37.  What is loving your neighbor about (verse 36 and 37)?  What made this man stop, be inconvenienced and concern himself with a total stranger (verse 33)?  The Good Samaritan went beyond sacrifice—he had mercy.  Read 1 Peter 3:8-12.  Peter defines and describes in verses 9-11 what being compassionate entails—and what God looks at in verse 12.  Can you say that righteousness (having God’s approval) is a result of being sacrificial, or is it the result of being merciful?


Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.Lamentations 3:22


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