Wednesday, March 2, 2011

WSSID Ch 5 - "Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment" - Pt II

If mercy and love for my enemies…then what for my spouse?

The key text for chapter 5 is Luke 6:27-36. In this text, Jesus commands us to be merciful to and love our enemies. Does this have anything to do with marriage? Some of you know immediately that this applies to marriage! Others might think that it’s too extreme to apply to marriage.

Harvey brings Luke 6 right into the proverbial kitchen when he writes:
By addressing grievous scenarios, [Jesus] is setting the bar for normal life. He is saying, “Okay, now on to mercy. Let’s move right to the egregious cases—such as your enemies, those who hate and curse and strike and abuse you—because when you know how to deal with committed enemies, you’ll know how to deal with occasional enemies. When you can extend mercy to the spiteful, violent, selfish, and wicked, you can extend it to those who annoy, ignore, or disappoint you. (83)
Read through Luke 6:27-36 slowly and carefully and ask yourself what this text has to say to you in your marriage:
But I say to you who hear,
Love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who abuse you.

To one who strikes you on the cheek,
offer the other also, and
from one who takes away your cloak
do not withhold your tunic either.
Give to everyone who begs from you, and
from one who takes away your goods
do not demand them back.  

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

"If you love those who love you,
what benefit is that to you?
For even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what benefit is that to you?
For even sinners do the same.
And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.

But love your enemies,
and do good,
and lend,
expecting nothing in return,
and your reward will be great,
and you will be sons of the Most High,

for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
Be merciful,
even as your Father is merciful.

Some will hear this and resist. To you, Harvey gives some very wise, though potentially hard-to-swallow, counsel:
To so many spouses, one more turning of the cheek or one more overlooked sin is just too much. Mercy has been tried and “it hasn’t worked.” Nothing has changed. In fact, mercy has been trampled on and abused; it just doesn’t produce results.
But we must go back and ask, “What is the purpose of mercy?” Do I extend mercy to get a response? Are results the point? Is mercy some spiritual coin with which to purchase my spouse’s good behavior?
In Luke 6, Jesus makes it clear that mercy does carry a promise. But it’s a promise of reward, not of results (v. 35). Jesus never promises to change our enemies (the extreme case that encompasses all cases). What he has in view for us is a loving relationship with our Father in heaven that will increasingly eclipse any hateful or hurtful actions against us. (93-94, emphasis mine)
"But I can't do this!" you say. "You're right." This kind of mercy is not in us. But it is in our merciful God and Savior. And he can so fill us with his mighty mercy that we will be able to love like him.

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