Out of the Abundance of the Heart

As a mom of boys, our home has often been mistaken for a war zone. Words and objects are tossed from one child to the other from across the room, and often from across the house. There’s not a whole lot of room for mercy between brothers. The one who wins is the powerful one, and the one who gives in is weak. But as they’ve grown into teenagers and even adults, I see that subtly changing. They actually seem to like each other now, and it gives this mama some hope!

We can be a lot like that too though. When we are wronged, we tend to seek justice. Mercy is the furthest thing from our mind. Whether it’s a coworker, family member, or the guy who cut us off on the road, our first reaction is often to strike back. Our lives are so busy, and our patience is thin. We have very little margin to spare. But God commands us to treat others the way we would want to be treated and extend mercy as Jesus would do.

I love how the Message version of Matthew 5:1-10 paints this picture of how we should act at believers and followers of Christ. Read through this carefully:

1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

God blesses those who posture our hearts toward Him so that we might act as He would act, speak as He would speak, show mercy as He would show mercy. When we stay grounded in God’s Word and keep our hearts and minds centered on Him, out of the overflow of the heart will our words and actions speak.

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.- Matthew 12:34 NKJV

Pastor Aaron shared this thought last weekend, and it rings true. “Maybe the greatest sign of a healthy heart is a heart that extends mercy and forgiveness instead of screaming for justice.”

We all have bad days. Sometimes we say and do things because we are overly tired, stressed out, and overwhelmed. Sometimes we lash out because we’re hurt, sad, or lonely. Sometimes we don’t even know why we do the things we do.

So does everyone else. 

Remember that next time we want to scream for justice instead of showing mercy. We all need a little mercy from time to time. Extend to others the same mercy that God extends to us each day and be a light in this dark world.

JOURNAL: In what area of your life right now are you showing justice instead of mercy? What can you do to change that?

ACTIVATION: Read back through the Message version of Matthew 5:1-10 and write next to each verse what God brings to mind from your life. What is He saying to you through these verses?

PRAYER: Write out a personal prayer asking God to help you show mercy to those around you. Use the examples you wrote for your journal prompt and what God showed you through the verses in Matthew 5:1-10.
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