Be Merciful + Luke 6:36-42
In the collect for the fourth Sunday of Trinity, we pray that the world would be so peaceably ordered by God’s governance that the church would serve in all godly quietness. With this prayer, we give thanks that God gives us His Ten Commandments to govern His church and the world, that we would live and serve in godly quietness and peace. The Law of God has three purposes, three uses.
The Law of God is used as a curb. The Law of God works as a curb, in the same way a curb works on the road with a car, the curb keeps us on the straight and narrow, in the way we are to go, the way God wants us to go. It keep the car and each one of us from going off a cliff or into a ditch. In our daily lives, the curb of God’s Law keeps us from sudden outbursts of sin, keeping chaos and disorder in check. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are to love our enemy and pray for them. We are to turn the other cheek. We are bless those who curse us, and do good to those who hate us. St. Paul tells us, the law of God is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and the sinners, for the unholy and the profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine. This Law of God is carried out by the government, by the military, and by law enforcement, that there would be good order.
The Law of God works as a mirror. The Law of God is a mirror to show us our sins, that we daily fall short of what God demands of us. We don’t live as we should. The Law of God works as a mirror to show us that we do not love God above all things, we do not love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This use of God’s Law works to bring about sorrow for our sins, realizing our need for repentance, returning to the Lord our God, that He would forgive us, and speak peace to us. St. John reminds us, that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make God out to be a liar, and His word is not in us. This law of God is used by the church and her pastors, those who show us our sin and our need for repentance. In this use of God’s Law, we are driven to despair and ultimately to Christ, who forgives us of our sins, is slow to anger toward us and abounding in steadfast love toward us forever.
The Law of God works as a guide. God’s Law, used as a guide, is for those who believe and are baptized. The Law of God is a guide, guiding us and directing us – our thoughts, our words and our actions. All things are to be done in love of God and neighbor. All things are to be done to the glory and honor or God. Our lives are lived, as baptized children of God, in a God pleasing and glorifying way. St. Peter urges us, to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against our soul. We are to keep our conduct among the Gentiles and those who do not believe honorably, so that when they speak against us as being evildoers, they may see our good deeds and glorify God on the day of His second coming. St. Paul commends us, do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that we would know what the will of God is – what is good and acceptable and perfect. We are to behave like true Christians, letting love be genuine, abhorring what is evil; holding fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Within the church, we are to be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. We are to rejoice in hope, patient in tribulation, constant in prayer. We are to contribute to the needs of the saints, seeking to show hospitality. And within the world, we are to bless those who persecute us; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Above all, if our enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Thanks be to God for the Ten Commandments and for God’s Law used among us. We see God’s Law, His Ten Commandments, at work in our Old Testament lesson for today. Joseph’s brothers hated him. They were so jealous and angry with him, they wanted to kill him, but instead they sold him into slavery. When Joseph’s father, Jacob had died, Joseph’s brothers thought that Joseph would pay them back for all the evil that they had done to him, but Joseph forgave his brothers. Joseph said to them, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Joseph had been sold into slavery, but ended up becoming Pharoah’s right hand man. God used Joseph to provide for his family in a time of drought and starvation. Pharaoh, who did not worship the one true God, gave thanks for Joseph’s God because of how Joseph acted. This is how we are to live with our brothers and sisters who sin against us, loving them, providing for them, even if they hate us and wish us harm.
We see God’s Law, His Ten Commandments, at work in our Epistle lesson for today. The world hates us and wants nothing to do with us. The world wants us removed from society and daily life. The world hates God and wants nothing to do with Him or us. The world hates the Law and Commandments of God. We are not allowed to teach the Ten Commandments. Fathers and mothers are not allowed to raise their children in a God fearing way, having authority and responsibility for their children. We are punished for believing that marriage is to be between one man and one woman and for the procreation of children. Christians who uphold marriage and family and life and reject abortion and the LGBQT agenda are marginalized in society, often times losing the ability to provide for their families. But we are not to be afraid, for those who persecuted us have also persecuted Jesus before us. Jesus who was innocent, suffered and died on the cross for those who were guilty. What God’s Ten Commandments teach us is correct and God pleasing. We are to speak up for, encourage and defend those who are persecuted. Jesus says, “Fear not, everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. St. Paul tells us that the suffering of this present time is not worth comparing to the glory that will come with everlasting life and eternal salvation in heaven. Thanks be to God, the suffering we struggle with is for a short time, it will come to an end.
We see God’s Law, His Ten Commandments, at work in our Gospel lesson for today. We are to love as God loves us, willingly suffering and dying for our neighbor as Jesus suffered and died for us on the cross. Thanks be to God, we are loved, even though we don’t deserve to be loved. We love, even though our neighbor does not deserve to be loved. We show mercy, as our Father in heaven shows mercy to us. We deserve punishment, because we have not kept the Law of God and the Ten Commandments perfectly. But we are not punished, instead the Son of God received the punishment, we deserved, upon Himself.
Thanks be to God, God the Father, punished His Son with the punishment we deserved. This is what we understand when we pray, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. With these words, we realize we are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that our heavenly Father would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. So we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.
Thanks be to God, because of the Law of God, we see the log of sin in our eye, that it would be removed from us with repentance and forgiveness. And in response, we can show our neighbor the speck of dust of sin that is in his eye, that it would be removed from him with repentance and forgiveness. This is the holy will of God for us. This is how we are to live our daily lives. This is what it means to be a baptized child of God. This is what we confess, as we come forward together, to kneel, to eat Jesus’ body and blood, given and shed for the forgiveness of sins. Amen.