3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
Mercy and truth are important concepts for a Christian. Sometimes we can get so caught up in matters of this world or disagreements among the brethren that, as Jesus said, we “forget the weightier matters of the law: judgment, mercy, and faith.”
Some things are best lived out. If we seek Jesus to help us live truthfully, then He will teach us righteous judgement, how to show mercy, and our faith in Him will protect us. We will have faith that the Lord avenges, for example. We will also have faith in the sovereign will of God. All things are working according to His wisdom and “all things are working together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”
As Christians, we are supposed to walk a life of truth. We are supposed to seek out what is true by the Spirit of Truth. Very often, the most important truths are those that we do not want to hear. Very often, the truths that are most important for us are those pertaining to our own sin or misguided ways. We should also seek out the truth concerning popular matters, because we are in this world and it is our duty to care for it to the best of our ability.
If we seek out the truth concerning popular matters, such as within politics, social movements, and within Christian institutions, then we will often find ourselves standing in opposition to the world we are charged with protecting. We will find ourselves standing in opposition to many people who are walking destructively, and we cannot forsake what is true for the sake of social acceptance or an easy life.
In fact, we might find ourselves on the outskirts of politics, society, and Christian institutions. This is not a bad thing, so long as we maintain a sober mind that is not fearful, prideful, angry, and accusatory. We should use our unique perspective to bring peace and reconciliation as much as is possible, then allow these things to fail and fall according to the will of God.
Many things need to perish and will perish, but not us. We are receiving mercy, so we must show mercy.
If a person wants to turn away from destructive things, we should be glad and forgive them. Even if this is an on-going struggle. As Jesus said, sometimes we forgive seven times seventy times. There are people who fain sorrow and repentance just to keep people appeased for a time, but I don’t think that is a very common personality trait and the Lord helps us to deal with that too according to the unique circumstances.
In remembering mercy, we should consider how we deal with transgressors. We don’t have to jump to the worst possible punishment. If Jesus gave us what we deserve, we would have no hope. We are told that “whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” All judgement belongs to the Son, and He has given judgment to us also.
That is something Christians don’t talk about much, but we should. This is an important duty that should be taken seriously, justly, and mercifully. Simply stating the truth of a matter is often sufficiently grievous for those who love lies.
I like the analogy of binding truth and mercy to our neck and heart. Our neck is what holds the head up and steers the head, thereby steering our eyes and ears. We should strive to seek out truth and hear it. By the grace of God, we have eyes to see and ears to hear. We should look for ways to provide mercy in all judgments we make if possible, be thankful for the mercy that others show us, and speak temperately.
Our heart is our inner-being and emotions, and “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” If we are governed by truth and mercy, then we are not governed by unrighteous desires, lies, false accusations, fears, anger, and the like. Our words will also be true, and that is very important. Our words carry the judgment of God, and our words should be governed by mercy because we need mercy too.
When we live a life of truth and mercy, we will certainly find favor from God. It is God’s favor in the first place that allows us to live in truth and mercy. We can also find favor from others. Truth and mercy foster good, strong relationships and helps one to build a generally positive rapport among members of their community. However, that is not always the case.
Jesus said, “if you were of the world the world would love its own, but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
Jesus also said we are blessed of God if we suffer for the sake of righteousness and for His name. As the times grow darker, finding favor from man because of living truthfully and mercifully will diminish. This world loves lies and violence. We cannot succumb to it. However, there are those who appreciate a truthful and merciful person, especially among the brethren.
I have striven to be truthful with myself, especially in matters of conviction against sin. I also strive to be truthful with others, but applying the truth is not always simple. We need to be tactful, show understanding, compassion, and mercy. We also need to be direct and firm, not wavering from the truth for the sake of pleasing others or maintaining fake relationships. In all things, mercy provides us with balanced perspective and makes room for people to repent and grow.
This is a balance I have striven for, but I will be thinking more about this today. Things like fear, prideful anger, and unforgiveness are lurking in my heart, and that hinders my ability to live out that balance.