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Mercy Me

By Sheila Schuller Coleman

2195 2021-02-26

We are happy because we are blessed because we have God and we follow God’s law. And when we follow God’s law, we live the best lives possible. That’s what we talked about when we went through the Ten Commandments - that God wants you to have a blessed life. He wants you to have the best life possible, and that’s why we’re continuing now with the Be a New Attitude, or the Beatitudes of Jesus.

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, I got a new attitude. Anybody else have a new attitude? Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, I got a new attitude. Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, I got a new attitude.

(WORSHIP TEAM SINGS: I’m feeling good from my head to my shoes. Know where I’m going and I know what to do. I tidied up my point of view. I got a new attitude. I’m feeling good from my head to my shoes. Know where I’m going and I know what to do. I tidied up my point of view. I got a new attitude. I got a new attitude. I got a new attitude. Oh, oh, oh, oh, I got a new attitude! Oh, oh, oh, oh, I got a new attitude! Oh, oh, oh, oh, I got a new attitude!)

I confess, though, that there are times when I sit down and I cry at home that I need a new attitude. And God, when we ask, does give us a new attitude. We’ve got to get a new attitude found in God’s beatitudes, the be-a-new-attitudes.

Today, we’re looking at the beatitude, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”

I loved being a principal, being around wonderful children. Our second graders would present a little play every year at Thanksgiving time. Some were the pilgrims, some were the Indians, and some were the turkeys. Every time they told the Thanksgiving story, the little pilgrims would say, “Mercy me, mercy me.” So, when I think of mercy, I think of “Mercy me, mercy me.” So simple and yet it’s so profound. It’s the whole synthesis of the gospel message. Mercy; mercy me. Mercy for me and mercy from me to others.

That’s what this “Be a New Attitude” is all about. Not just thinking mercy, but living mercy, being mercy. And it all starts with a new attitude.

We’ve been talking about negative thoughts and how important it is that we capture them because those negative thoughts lead to negative feelings, which lead to negative behavior. So, for instance, many of you send me private messages on Facebook, and I have a chance to listen to what God is doing in your lives. Some have said, “Sheila, you preached on forgiveness this past Sunday. But how do I forgive? I was wronged.”

Others say, “Sheila, how do I forgive? I’m right. I am justified.”

Those thoughts - I am right, I am wronged. I am right, I am wronged - can lead to the feelings of anger, resentment, and bitterness. Those feelings of anger, resentment, and bitterness can lead to an action called of “fight or flight.”  Fighting or fleeing can rupture precious relationships. The antidote that God gives us through Jesus His Son in this beatitude is “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”

I like to say that I am selfishly merciful. I give mercy to people. I give it away selfishly. I know that when I am merciful to others, they’ll be merciful back to me, and I know I’m going to need it. Haven’t you ever needed someone to be merciful to you? Haven’t you ever made a mistake? Haven’t you ever messed up? Have you ever felt like you wanted someone to say to you, “Please, be merciful to me”? And so I figure, if I’m merciful to others, the likelihood of my receiving mercy back when I need it is more likely and, indeed, that’s exactly what Jesus says right here.

You know there’s a chain. There’s a mercy chain and there’s a pain chain. And the pain chain goes like this: People who hurt people, are hurt people, who hurt people, who are hurt people, who hurt people. Right? That’s the pain chain. And when we capture those negative thoughts of “I am right” or “I was wronged,” and we replace them with mercy with the thought “That’s okay, I forgive you,” then we break that chain. We break the pain chain and we replace it with a help chain, a mercy chain and it reads like this: People who help people, are helped people, who help people, who are helped people, who help people. And it all begins with capturing those negative thoughts.

A good, good friend of mine told me recently, “Sheila, I don’t know if you know it, but my brother and I had a ruptured relationship for many, many years.” And I didn’t even know he had a brother. That’s how ruptured that relationship was. And he said, “It was when Dad died that my brother and I, all of a sudden, experience a change – it was as if everything went away. He said, “I can’t explain it. But the anger, the bitterness – it was as if it never happened. It was as if there’d never been a fracture in the relationship. We instantly were connected again. He said, “The sad thing was that Dad didn’t get to see it. And the sad thing is, all the years that were lost in the meantime.”

Then he said this phrase, which I’d never heard before. He said, “We didn’t even have to go dumpster diving.” Am I the only one who’s never heard that before? Dumpster diving. And it stuck with me because I thought that it was such a truism. Think about it. When relationships are fractured, in an attempt to try to heal it, people go dumpster diving. You dive into the dumpster and you pull out “Well, you hurt me this way.’”

And then the other one dives into the dumpster and says, “Yes, but you hurt me this way.”

And then the other one dives in the dumpster and says, “But I said this and you ignored it.”

And the other one dives into the dumpster and comes back up with another hurtful comment.

Do you see what I’m saying? We just keep dumpster diving and dumpster diving and dumpster diving. That does no good. And you know what, we all do it. We do. I’m guilty, too. The reason we do it is because we’re trying to justify our reason for being angry, our reason for saying, “I was right, I was wronged.” Right? You’re trying to justify your position and you figure that, if you can get the other person to say, “Oh yeah, you’re right, I agree with you. I now see your point,” that now you can have reconciliation, But that’s not how it works. Mercy is not about justification. Mercy is not about proving guilt or innocence. In fact, mercy isn’t needed if there’s innocence. Mercy is only needed if there’s guilt.

Replace those thoughts of “I was right,” or “I was wronged.” Chances are, you probably were. Chances are, you are right. Chances are, you were wronged. Chances are, your feelings are justified. Chances are, the other person is guilty. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t, but even so, it doesn’t matter.

Wow. You didn’t want to hear that today, did you? It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you are right and they were wrong. What matters is mercy. And that’s what God tells us and that’s what Jesus tells us because the truth of the matter is, that mercy can only be given when there’s guilt, when it’s undeserved. It’s the only time mercy can truly be given, otherwise it’s not mercy. Otherwise its rationalization. Otherwise its justification.

As a principal, I had a teacher who forgot to come to open house. It was my first year as principal, and it was my first open house. So, I got this call, “Sheila, the teacher isn’t here. She’s not here.” I’ll call her Mrs. Smith. “Mrs. Smith isn’t here.” I was appalled because, first of all, I had no idea what went on in Mrs. Smith’s classroom. I hadn’t had a chance to get to know it yet. I was brand new. And they said, “You have to come down. You have to come down and be Mrs. Smith in her classroom.”

So I walked into the classroom and the parents asked me all kinds of questions, and I had the same answer for every single question: “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.” I’m feeling stupid. I’m feeling very irresponsible. I’m feeling like a terrible, terrible principal, and I’m not making any brownie points here. And I’m not engendering any kind of trust from the parents as I kept saying, “I don’t know. I don’t know.” And I’m thinking, “Where is she? Where is she? Where is she? And boy, wait till tomorrow.”

The others had tried to call her and had left her several messages, but we never heard back from her. The next day, there was an apology note that had been slipped underneath my door. Do you think she was innocent by not being there? I can tell you that in most educational circles, she would have deserved to be fired. But she needed my mercy, did she not? She needed my mercy. And I gave it to her. I wrote her a note back that said, “Mrs. Smith, this is a school where you will be loved and you will be forgiven, but don’t do it again.” My mercy for her was undeserved, and that’s how mercy is. That’s a really good illustration of mercy.

So when we have those thoughts like “I was right,” “I was wronged,” take them and replace them. Capture those thoughts before they lead to feelings of resentment and anger and bitterness, which lead to the actions of breaking and fracturing and fighting and fleeing away from people. Capture those negative thoughts and replace them with “It's okay, I forgive you.” And we forgive because we’ve been forgiven. And that’s the bottom line.

There’s a story; I’m going to read from Matthew 18, starting at verse 21. “Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive someone who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy seven times.’” And then he goes on to tell the story of a king. A king was trying to reconcile his books, and he realized that he had a servant that owed him in today’s U.S. dollars, six billion dollars. The servant owed him that much money.

So he called the servant to come to him and the king said to the servant, “Pay me this money.” Well of course the servant didn’t have six billion dollars. And the king said, “Well, okay, so I’m going to take you, your wife, your kids, and you will now be my slaves. You will have to sell everything you own. All you own will become my possessions and you’ll be indebted to me for the rest of your life.”

The servant, at that point, fell to his knees before the king, and he pleaded with him, and he said “Please, please, have mercy on me, oh king. Have mercy on me.” And, remarkably, the king did.

The man was guilty. The man deserved his punishment. And the merciful king said, “I forgive you of your debt.” So can you imagine how this servant must have felt? His six billion dollar debt had been erased!

As he leaves the king, he runs into a friend who owed him the equivalent of $12,000 U.S. dollars. He takes him by the neck, choking him in anger and says, “You owe me $12,000! Pay me immediately or I’m throwing you in jail.”

The friend fell at his feet and said, “Please have mercy on me. Have mercy on me.”

And the servant said, “No,” and had him thrown in jail.

Soon word got back to the king. “You know that guy that you forgave his six billion dollar debt? He just threw a friend in jail for a $12,000 debt.” Can you imagine how well that news went over with the king? Not very well. The king’s mercy was withdrawn. And the king had the man thrown in jail. And that was it.

This is a story that Jesus uses to illustrate mercy, and this whole beatitude, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” You see, we have been given mercy by God. We have a debt that we can’t begin to pay. The justification is that we should have to die, that we should be thrown in eternal prison. But God, in His infinite mercy, sent His Son Jesus so that we can be freed, so we don’t have to. Then, in turn, we are asked to be merciful to those who have hurt us. And that’s what we’re asked to do. And because we will be blessed when we do that, we will be freed from anger, we will be freed from resentment, we will be freed from bitterness. And we will be living the liberty of mercy by extending it to others. Remember that pain chain of hurt people, who are hurt people, who hurt people. That gets broken with mercy. It gets broken with God’s mercy for you and for me.

Some of you need to accept God’s mercy. If you’re having a hard time forgiving, if you’re having a hard time being merciful to others, it’s probably because you still haven’t accepted God’s mercy for you. And there are so many people who have a hard time accepting that gift of mercy. They think, “I don’t deserve it. I’m not worthy,” and indeed that’s true. The mercy is given, regardless of whether you deserve it or not.

Some of you think, “I don’t need it. I don’t need God’s mercy.” Wherever you are on that continuum, the truth of the matter is, you do need God’s mercy. You do need His mercy. You need to say, “God, give me this gift of mercy. I accept Your gift of mercy today.” And then you’ll be able to give it to others who have hurt you.

And there are some of you, today, who are as trapped, as trapped as that servant was who got thrown into debtors prison. You’re trapped in resentment and you’re trapped in anger. You’re trapped in bitterness. I know because I hear from many of you. And you need to selfishly, today, accept mercy and selfishly give mercy because your life will never the same.

And so I want to invite you right now to take time to do one of two things, or both, if you want to. But I want to invite you to come, today, if you need the gift of mercy. Come and kneel here in front of God, and say, “God, I need Your mercy.” If you need to give the gift of mercy, if you’ve been holding on because you’ve felt justified in holding on, forgive today. Forgive. Let go. Drop it. Leave it here. Leave it here. Come and kneel and ask God if you can’t forgive on your own. If you don’t have that mercy, ask Him. Say, “Lord, I will forgive because You have taught me to forgive and You will give me the ability to forgive. Amen.”

And then last week, as Jim Penner had you walk your hands through the grains of sand to remember how much God loves you, I encourage you, today, as you leave, to walk and drag your fingers through the fountains, through the water, and know that your hurt has been washed away.

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  1. youngeone writes:

    Thank you again Hour of Power I look forward each week to tuning in to this encouraging message . I have done this for many many years and I have been most blessed. Our GOD is a GOD of MERCY and a GOD of GRACE , HE LOVES us and HE is FAITHFUL .

    Report Inappropriate Comment

    03/01/2021 00:35:03
  2. glowzone723 writes:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful message.I have learned to forgive eaisly even if it hurts for I am always reminded of Jesus who conitnously forgive me for my sins unconditionally.We should learn to share the blessings we have.We should not let hurts, pains and bitterness be deeply rooted in our hearts for if it does it will affect the whole body and this will deter us from having a great relationship with the Lord.If we want God to answer our prayers we must learn to do good things for Him and for others.Learn to forgive senty times seven.Let us keep pur eyes on the cross and if we do our life will never be the same ever again HALLELUJAH!

    Report Inappropriate Comment

    03/11/2020 08:09:26

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