Mercifully Faithful

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Matthew 9:9–13; Luke 10:25–37; James 2:5–13

“For I desire faithful love and not sacrifice,
  the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
     — Hosea 6:6 (CSB)

It’s interesting that the same translation, the CSB, translates Hosea 6:6 with faithful love, while in Matthew 9:13 it’s mercy. What makes it even more interesting is that the same word used for “faithful love” in Hebrew is also used for “mercy”.

In the context of Hosea, “faithful love” makes sense for the wayward Israelites. One of the issues, though, for the Israelites was that they did not show mercy to the orphans and widows (or, it seems, anyone else).

One could then conclude (reasonably) that the issue is that one of the ways that the Israelites did not show “faithful love” by not showing “mercy” to those who desperately needed it. It should not be lost on us that faithful love is mercy, and mercy is faithful love.

The world could use a lot more mercy. Imagine being merciful to your enemies…any of your enemies. They could be political, family, religious, national, tribal, even sports teams. Enemies aren’t just those we perceive as being our opposites.

Sports teams are the perfect example. Some you know probably like a sports team that you don’t (if you’re into sports). There can be times when sports fan blends into tribal then into gang behavior. Football (i.e., soccer) had “hooligan” troubles for many years. Team fans would riot at games and after games, trying to harm each other. Troubling or harming a fan based on their team is certainly not merciful.

As we delve into politics, everyone’s favorite topic, being merciful to people who seem to be on the opposite side of you is a Christian response. They love their families, too. What if they love Jesus? Then it’s even more important in many ways.

These days, being merciful means NOT responding to that social media statement, or too snarky comments made in the same tone that it was delivered. If you must respond (which may be necessary), it should be, “While I love you, we don’t see things in this area the same.” One would hope that this would be taken well. However, it’s not your responsibility for how they take a lovingly gentle response.

※Questions※

1) What are your thoughts and feelings regarding faithful love as mercy, and mercy as faithful love?

2) While it sounds strange, how might we show mercy to God?

3) What are ways that you show and can show mercy to others (hint: think beyond “compassion”)?

※Prayer※

Merciful Father, we thank you for your mercy, personified by the life, death, and resurrection of Your Son Jesus. May we show that same spirit of mercy to the world through our faithful love. Amen.