by Pastor Tim Burt
I was listening to a national speaker giving a speech. He indicated that people— especially Christians—tire and frustrate him because they seldom follow through on what they know to do. In so many words he was saying, “I’m sick of people. You can’t count on them for anything. I know I can count on me so I’ve learned to do things by myself.” This person needed to get off the speaking circuit and get refreshed on life. He has lost grip on one of the most powerful truths ever. What is that? That the primary way that God brings blessing into our lives is through people! We better not get sick of them. We better quit looking for perfection in them, learn to encourage them, and learn to love people for who they are and see the best in them. If we don’t, we’ll miss out on the very blessing God would bring to us through people.
Some people think, “God will supernaturally provide for me like He did for Elijah: through ravens, not people!” "Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there." So Elijah did what the LORD had told him… The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. (1 Kings 17:1-6)
This is a powerful story and reveals to us how God will provide for us supernaturally as we follow out and obey His direction for our lives. God desires to bring supernatural provision to us. Stories like this are there for the very purpose of building our faith in that truth. And yet His bringing it through ways other than people is the exception, not the rule! The most common way He brings things like words of knowledge, words of wisdom, help, encouragement, comfort, provision, and direction to our lives is through people. In Elijah’s case God used ravens because He had to hide and seclude Elijah from all people. Why? The King had everyone in his kingdom looking for Elijah to kill him because of the drought on the land. He blamed Elijah for it.
If people sometimes frustrate us, but we don’t want to lose love for people, how do we keep our hearts right? James 3:17-18 gives us insight saying, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.” This verse helps us discern our own words, attitudes, and actions to see if the place we are coming from when working through issues or conflict is from a godly or ungodly perspective. Three simple words can help us take hold of this truth: FULL of MERCY. This is God's love pill and our people pill that helps us maintain our love for all people.
Are you absolutely aware that almost everything that ticks you off about other people, you yourself have most likely violated? Proverbs 20:9 (NLT) says, “Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and free from sin"? We may not say this, but we often act like we’re sinless and without fault when mad at others. Psalm 143:2 says, “Don't bring your servant to trial! Compared to you, no one is perfect.” What this verse is saying is that in your eyes you will always be justified, but the offender will never measure up to your standard. The truth is, not one of us would survive without mercy. Mercy is one of the most powerful forces in the world, and it’s the one that God used to bring you and I back to Himself through Jesus Christ.
If we are truly seeking to imitate God, then we will bring mercy continuously into our thinking and into our daily living experience whenever and wherever possible to help remove offense and conflict.
In Exodus 25:22 (KJV) we see God’s offering of mercy to us. He says “And there I will meet with you, and I will commune with you from above the mercy seat…”We all know that not one of us could possibly obey God’s word perfectly without missing it and sinning. This isn’t an excuse for sinning or to sin. It’s a covering for when we do intend to do right, but blow it. God says that He will meet and have fellowship with us at the mercy seat. It’s the place where we get mercy so that we can continue in an intimate and loving relationship with Him. If you are like me, you are there often. If God continually has mercy on us, then it should also be given from us often to others. It has the power to instantly soften and reunite our hearts with someone we’d otherwise be upset with.
I realize it doesn’t solve the problems that cause conflict. It does give space and time to work out and work through conflict with the Heavenly wisdom spoken of in the verses above from James 3:17-18. We are all a work in progress and therefore all desperate for God’s mercy. As liberally as we would want or need it, let us give it out. Are you in conflict? Meet them at the mercy seat. It’s God's love pill and your people pill! Then the blessing of God can flow without interruption from you to people and from people to you. Then you won’t tire of people and isolate yourself from them. Then you will love people and realize if you pay attention, that the primary way God brings blessing into your life is through living, breathing, people!
James 3:17-18 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is FULL of MERCY and good deeds…”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt