Principles of Mercy: “Loving in Deed”
Mercy is a sign of true faith.(Luke 10:25-37)
When the expert in the law asked about eternal life, Jesus did not tell him, “believe in me.” He sent him to the Law. The proper response to the Law when it is viewed honestly is a cry for mercy. The expert, though he knew the Law on the surface, “wanted to justify himself.” Therefore he wanted to define his neighbor so narrowly as to avoid condemnation. Jesus told the story to reveal the truth that mercy is a sign of true faith to a man who had none.
Grace is the motivation for mercy.(2 Cor. 8:8-9)
Knowing that we as sinners were outcasts, spiritually bankrupt (and in our sinful nature still are) and without hope, we cannot but recognize that our need of God’s grace is parallel to many people’s need of basic provision. When we see the broken and the needy, we see ourselves spiritually and ought to be moved with compassion.
We are called to Committed Giving.(Heb. 13; 1 Timothy 6)
Scripture calls us as believers to give sacrificially, until our lifestyle is lowered. Even the wealthy, while not required to give away all of their wealth, are called to live modestly that the needy may be provided for. We are called to give joyfully, knowing that God is building his kingdom through our giving.
We must employ Inreach and Outreach.(1 Tim. 5; Lev. 19)
Based on the covenant framework, responsibility for the needy rests primarily on those in closest relationship with them. It begins with the family (Lev. 25:25), then the covenant community (Deut. 15:7), and finally the state (Gen. 41:53-57). However, we are also responsible for our neighbors (Luke 10), strangers (Ex. 22:21 ) and even enemies (Luke 6:32 -36) because God’s grace makes enemies into friends. v
Mercy should be Conditional and Unconditional(Luke 6; 2 Thess. 3)
While mercy ought to be given freely to those undeserving of it because of the nature of God’s grace, it should not continue to be given to those who abuse it. We should “let mercy limit mercy,” or recognize that if we are truly merciful we will not continue to support a self-destructive lifestyle.
Sin and Salvation are both holistic.(Gen. 3:6-19)
When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, they were affected at every level of their being. They were affected physically, in that they were made immediately mortal. They also were at war with nature. They were affected socially in that they realized they were naked and were ashamed of each other. Their intimacy with each other and God was destroyed in that instant and would never return. They were affected psychologically in that their shame affected their view of themselves, and the seeds of doubt, mistrust, fear, shame, depression and suspicion were being sown. Finally, they were affected theologically in that they were separated from their Creator by being cast out of the garden. We are affected in all the ways that Adam and Eve were. In the same way, salvation is holistic. We are not just “saved” from eternal punishment, but we are restored in body and spirit. Christ has begun that work, and will complete it in the new heavens and new earth when he restores his creation. As a part of that gospel restoration, we as Christ’s church are to be involved in holistic restoration now: we must minister not just to people’s “souls,” but their bodies, their minds and their relationships.
Reaching Out – Loving in Word and Deed
As the church of Jesus Christ , we are called to be “outwardly faced” – this means that as we serve God, we do not exist first for ourselves, but for those outside of our community. Following Jesus’ example, we are to reach out to others in word by sharing the message of Christianity and in deed by actions of love and mercy to those in need. Below are some tools to equip you to do just that.
A Model of Lifestyle Evangelism- “Loving in Word”Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went
Employ Prayer –
We must be committed to urgent, passionate prayer for spiritual fruit.
Our Goal –
There are many legitimate goals in evangelism: our presence before our lost friends, a presentation of the gospel and persuasion to see them confess Christ as Lord. Scripture calls us to go further, to a product—namely a disciple of Christ.
Our Target –
“If you aim at nothing you’re sure to hit it.”
A target is a specific field, coming from the NT concept of oikos or household. A household is not just a family, but a “lifestyle circle” made up of those in your sphere of influence. This can include co-workers, members of a club, neighbors, etc. Once you’ve identified your target, it’s imperative to pray for individuals in it and invest time in them.
Our Method –
While there are many methods of a presentation of the gospel available ( Romans Road , Evangelism Explosion), one that seems to fit the “postmodern” person well is a “dialogue” approach. It involves multiple appointments in the context of a relationship with the goal of reaching an “unprepared” person. Even so, it is a clear proclamation of the gospel. Here is how it begins…
S – a discussion of one’s Secular life
H – questions about a Home church or church background
A – Attendance (indicating the importance in their mind) at their church, if any
R – Reasons for the church: purpose for living, freedom to do what one ought and assurance of eternal destiny
E – Exploratory question – “Has your experience in the church given you this purpose, freedom and assurance?” or “Where are you on your spiritual journey?” This is followed by a diagram explaining the gospel with simple boxes and figures. v
Seek Opportunities –
These should be intentional and consistent (around meals, recreation) v Make Commitments to…
- Answer the questions that non-believers are asking
- Wisely create a forum to address those questions
- Whenever possible, seek to have multiple appointment conversations rather than single appointment presentations (Acts 17:1-3)
- Show intellectual respect to those investigating and to rely on the intellectual credibility of the Bible
- Trust God to do the converting by using his instrument of conversion, the Bible (Hebrews 4:12 )
- Continuously visualize and occasionally verbalize the seeker’s success in finding Christ
- Be sure that the new believer enters an environment of encouragement in their new faith.