I searched under 'Mercy' in Photobucket, and this picture of Teresa of Calcutta showed up. Interesting...
If you've read some of my previous posts, then you know that currently I am fascinated by Matthew 9:13 "I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
I began to give thought to all the areas of my life in which I serve the Lord:
1. Some kids down the road on our campground had a lemonade stand. All the other campers were gone for the day, so Hubby and I walked over and bought a cup of lemonade, and couldn't help but smile at how excited this made the kids. We then emptied our pockets, and gave it to them as a tip. That was so much fun, that we went back to our camper and emptied out our money jar that we used for splurging on things like ice cream cones or movies. We went back to the lemonade stand and dumped it all on the table.
Mercy or Sacrifice? Mercy! This was the only sale those kids had that day, and it gave us so much joy!
2. We sat in church, and when the offering basket passed by we dutifully placed our envelope in it. We weren't giving for any particular needs, but out of obedience to God, or so our pastor said. We did not give this cheerfully, we gave it out of duty.
Mercy or Sacrifice? Sacrifice.
3. I went on a fast because I thought that was the Godly thing to do. I was sure it would please God, and if I lost a few inches around my waist, that's the icing on the cake (though in this case, there was no cake in the deal).
Mercy or Sacrifice? Sacrifice.“Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?...Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter?" (Isaiah 58:5) Clearly God would rather that I go without food in order to help someone who's hungry, rather than trying to do it for Him. He doesn't need food. (That isn't to say I'm against fasting, I have fasted in the past and seen major miracles. But clearly it must be led by God).
4. My husband receives a kit every year from the American Heart Fund. He gives the envelope to our next-door neighbor, and it gets passed around the block and ends up back here, which then gets mailed in.
Mercy or Sacrifice? Sacrifice. This one is tricky. I thought all along it was mercy, but now I'm not so sure. The same neighbors give every year - the ones that know us personally. Is it because they trust that we are good, honest people? I don't know. What if they give because they're worried what we'll think if they don't? I shudder to think that could be the reason. I can't find any mercy in this at all. Don't these kinds of organizations already receive money from the government? I'm not at all saying it's wrong to give to them, only God knows. But for myself, I would much rather bless people in person.
5. My mom (before she passed away) needed my help. I told her I couldn't help, because I had to go to a meeting at church. God always came first with me, even before family.
Mercy or Sacrifice? Sacrifice. "Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God, he is not to 'honor his father' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites!" (Matthew 15:3-7)
I could list many more, but I'm sure you get where I'm going with this. Recently I turned down a ministry opportunity. I had no peace about it, though it seemed good and right, and it's run by Godly people. This would have involved planning and organizing prayer meetings, and possibly planting a church. And that's all good stuff! But...I've had it on my heart to invite some widows in the neighborhood to a Bible study at our house. I know for a fact they are lonely and feel disconnected (only one of them attends church). So I had to ask myself - which of these ministries (for me) would be out of mercy. I'm going with the second one.
Please, if you don't agree with some of these conclusions, understand that this is what I have decided to do for me, not for you. What you do is between you and God, amen? As for me...I'm heading in Teresa of Calcutta's direction.
Picture compliments of Photobucket