You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 9But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. 14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
ercy is expected of every follower of Christ and true believer. As we say ‘Down South, Christians do not just “Talk the Talk, but we Walk the Walk.” One of the online dictionaries defined the word mercy as, “A disposition to be kind and forgiving with compassionate treatment. Synonyms are: clemency, gentleness, leniency, pity. One example of using the word Mercy in a sentence is, “It was by mercy that we got out of there alive.”
We “Baby-boomers remember the pop singer Roy Orbison’s deep southern drawl often using the word with great expression as an old south catch word, “MERCY !” It was a shortened version of, “O Dear Lord have Mercy!” That expression must be in Margaret Mitchell’s GONE WITH THE WIND, someplace. “O, My Mercy Miss Charlotte!”
However, the author of the letter of James in our New Testaments, and in the Lection for this Fourteenth Sunday of Pentecost, uses the word, “MERCY” with great expectations. James says that this noble human characteristic is a gift to us from the Holy Spirit so that there might be a whole army of merciful servants of Jesus Christ.
Our use of the word mercy is not just a folksy idiom of southern people; indeed, it might describe humanity’s most noble self as we become what C. S. Lewis calls “Little Christs.” We certainly would not expect little models of Christ” to be mean, selfish, and low minded individuals.
4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3: 4-6, NRSV)
It seems to be that the New Testament model for our renewal comes as a pure act of God’s mercy and love for us. A major role of the working of God/Holy Spirit in our lives is totally originated from God. It also indicates that the renewal of the Holy Spirit at work within us is the key to creating happy and purpose filled persons for service in the Church. It’s His power cooperating with our hunger for more that produces a merciful attitude about life and our relationship with others. This newness provides a contagious and happy persona which is all we need to become positive disciples.
Also, by reflecting this merciful attitude in our daily life and among our friends and family, the Church will become contagious and will grow. Truly, this is God’s model for spreading the Good News about Jesus Christ.
Our text seems to be calling us to a radical way of dealing with people and situations. One wonders how this practical unleashing of mercy upon the population would change things. For example, how does mercy fit into the feelings that we all have as we deal with the fifth anniversary of the attacks on the financial district of Manhattan on 9/11/01.
How would the last five years been different if we, as bearers of mercy, would have somehow shown mercy and radical forgiveness to the perpetrators of the continuing chain of terroristic events that have cost so many lives? I have the notion that one by one a merciful act could have brought about at least a more favorable result than we have had. I just know that my heart still aches for the thousands who have died. The whole world cries out for mercy!
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor