Understanding Judgement and Mercy
Luke 6:36-37 NKJV: Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. 37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Here, we told to be merciful and not judgemental.
Now, what does the Bible mean here when Jesus says we should not judge? After all, Paul judged people (1 Cor. 5.3) and he told the Corinthians to judge one another (1 Cor. 6.4, 5).
What Jesus meant here is that our judgement should be one of constructive judgement rather than the destructive judgement.
What’s the difference?
Constructive judgement points out what is wrong, with an attitude of meekness (Gal. 6.1, 2) even if sharply (Rev 3.15-19, Tit. 1.13), and proffers a solution and way of escape giving the person we are judging hope.
Destructive judgement only talks about what is wrong and leaves the person being judged without hope: a solution to their problem.
Condemnation is the abandonment of a person to a self inflicted bad fate.
God wants us not to give up on people easily: He wants us to try using the wisdom, compassion and power He has given us to try to save or at least reduce the negative effects of the self inflicted fate people have brought upon themselves through disobedience to His Word.
God’s mercy reduces the judgement we rightfully deserve.
For instance, God reached out to the Samaritan woman who had been married five times through the Lord Jesus even though obviously the woman was a troublesome or quarrelsome person:
Proverbs 21:9, 19 NKJV: Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman. 19 Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.
By reaching out to a woman who had been hurt, rejected and could have gone to hell with bitterness thinking life had been unfair to her, he was able to bring her to salvation:
John 4:27-29 NKJV: The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?“
God wants to be merciful so we can become more like Him for He is merciful to the undeserving (Lu. 11.36).
God wants us to be merciful so that when we can receive mercy in our time of need or weakness (Mt. 5.7).
God wants us to be merciful to the undeserving so that they can be preserved from destruction and hopefully, over time, respond to God’s mercy by repentance and so be saved from going to hell.
A classic example of this is Manasseh the son of Hezekiah:
2 Chronicles 33:1, 9.10, 11, 12-16 NKJV: Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. 2 But he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.” 9 So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. 10 And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. 11 Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. 12 Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God. 15 He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD and in Jerusalem; and he cast them out of the city. 16 He also repaired the altar of the LORD, sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.
Notice, God’s mercy preserved Manasseh from physical death during his time of gross disobedience and captivity and by responding to the mercy of God in repentance Manasseh was saved and restored back to his Kingdom. His repentance was genuine as shown by his actions after restoration.
It is instructive to compare Manasseh’s response to God’s rebuke and chastening and that of his son Amon.
Manasseh repented and he was saved.
Amon did not and so he was assassinated:
2 Chronicles 33:21-24 NKJV: Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. 22 but he did evil in the sight of the LORD, as his father Manasseh had done; for Amon sacrificed to all the carved images which his father Manasseh had made, and served them. 23And he did not humble himself before the LORD, as his father Manasseh had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more. 24 Then his servants conspired against him, and killed him in his own house.
When you respond to God’s chastening tempered with His mercy God will save you. If you do not you will be destroyed:
Proverbs 29:1 NIV: A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed–without remedy.
How then do we show mercy to men?
Ask God to give them mercy and pray for them in tongues: in the spirit:
Jude 20-23 NKJV: But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire
Show them practical deeds of kindness: give them food, clothing or whatever physical thing they are in need of as God enables you like the Good Samaritan(Lu. 10. 25-37, Pr. 3.27).
It is instructive to note that if you only show men acts of physical kindness but do not ask mercy for them and pray for them: they may not come to a knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ and you will only be drained of your physical resources with no spiritual impact: this is not the will of God.
Our acts of mercy should be preceded and followed with prayer (not necessarily preaching as preaching will only be effective after the heart has been softened and made receptive to God by the mercy of God released through prayer and acts of kindness), for those we show mercy to so the purpose of mercy which is to save men from hell fire will be achieved!