When you update an app, you expect it to work better, right? Sometimes you don’t notice any difference but sometimes your updated app does cool new stuff. When you trust Jesus, you get more than an update. You get a whole new operating system – the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit definitely comes with cool new stuff.
Like mercy. We humans are not naturally wired to extend mercy, but God is. When He described Who He was and what He was like to Moses, God started out with mercy:
And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness… (Exodus 34:6)
Mercy is the character of God, 101. Bob Dylan writes songs; God extends mercy. So, when a person receives God’s Spirit, Who begins to transform how he operates, one cool new result is an increased capacity for mercy – to give it and receive it.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus began by preaching hope for those who knew they were spiritually bankrupt, for those who mourned their condition and hungered for a soul that worked right (See the previous 4 posts). He told them they would be comforted and filled, hinting that He would give them the Holy Spirit. But then Jesus switched gears and began to speak of what happens in a person who is comforted and filled by His Spirit – what the cool new stuff is. He said:
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Matthew 5:7)
That’s cool new stuff 101. Those who have the Holy Spirit notice a growing capacity for mercy – to give it and receive it.
It’s not that being merciful earns us mercy from God. Being merciful in a genuine way shows that God’s Spirit is living in us. In that condition, we are enabled to receive God’s mercy. This mystery is repeated often in Jesus’ teaching. The unmerciful are unable to receive God’s mercy. The unforgiving are unable to receive His forgiveness. It’s not that they don’t deserve it; nobody deserves mercy and forgiveness. If we are deserving, it’s not mercy or forgiveness. It’s that our souls are unable to receive God’s forgiveness and mercy, to really accept them in a settled way, unless they have been brought to spiritual life by His Spirit. When we receive mercy, we naturally extend it. And vice versa.
It’s cool new stuff from our new operating system.