Habits of Highly Effective Christ-Followers

If you put first things first, then mercy must always replace retaliation

Habits of Highly Effective Christ-Followers
Put First Things First – Part IV

Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:25-34 NLT

Key Verse: Matthew 6:33 NLT
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”

Let’s continue looking at the things that Micah, an Old Testament prophet, said are the things we must be obedient to.

Yesterday we looked at the idea of obedience to the things that we know are right. Today, let’s look at the second statement that Micah said: “Love mercy”.

The Oxford Languages Dictionary says that the word “mercy” is “compassion or forgiveness when it is within one’s power to punish or harm”. Translating this to a biblical context, we know God has the power to punish us for all the wrongs that we have done, yet He shows us compassion and forgiveness; that is mercy!

Unfortunately, a consistent attitude of mercy to those who offend or harm us does not come naturally. Even serious Christ-followers do not find it natural to show mercy, though we know we should. Again, like all habits, it takes daily work to form a habit of mercy making it a “first thing” that we must always do. Remember, we are trying to put first things first, so mercy must replace retaliation… always!

A way to help get consistent with showing mercy to the people we live and work with is to remind ourselves of how often God has shown mercy to us. An authentic Christ-follower knows that God has had to show them mercy hundreds and hundreds of times. The problem is that although we know it, we tend to forget it when dealing with someone who frustrates us.

When I catch myself not showing mercy, I force myself to go back and apologize. This helps me to remember next time to be merciful.

Our marriages are good places to practice the habit of mercy. For most of us, it is our spouse that frustrates us the most because that is the person we are closest to and spend the most time with. Responding to that frustration with any kind of retaliation with our words or behavior puts us at odds with God.

Remember the warning Jesus gave all His followers:

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

If all of us keep this warning clear in our minds, we can be quick to give compassion and forgiveness to those who offend us.

Will you stop right now and ask God to help you to make mercy one of the “first things” in your life?

(Continued.)

Father, I do want to be a highly effective Christ-follower for You and Your Kingdom. Please help me to remember to always show mercy and make it one of the first things in my life! In Jesus’s name I pray, amen.

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