Scripture Passages: Three Parables: Matthew 20:1-16, Luke 13:6-9, Matthew 13:24-30
Main Verse: Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.—Luke 6:36
The Jewish world of Jesus’ day was a faith culture that desired to create order out of a chaotic world. They also sought to define themselves by their faith through asking the question, “How are we different from the world around us?”—focusing on which of the 613 commandments was most important. This delineation subsequently resulted in the creation of an “us versus them” mentality; and, we face the same challenge in our culture today.
When the Israelites (and we) begin to draw boundaries, they (and we) begin to think, “God is merciful to me and to people who are like me, but I want God to bring the others in line! I want His judgment to rain down on those creating chaos in my world.”
Jesus doesn’t fall victim to that kind of thinking. Rather, in the three parables we study this week, we are reminded of the depths of God’s divine mercy. And Jesus challenges us to “Be merciful, as your Father is merciful,” (see Luke 6:36).
To be clear: When we love our enemies, when we are merciful—forgiving, compassionate, and gracious—to people who hate us (and people we have real ideological differences with), we are walking in obedience to God’s command to love our neighbor.
Question: How are you internalizing Jesus’ challenge to be merciful just as your Father is merciful? Do you “grin and bear it,” or are you allowing the Holy Spirit in you to bring your heart’s desire in line with His Heart’s desire for all to be saved by grace?
Prayer Starter: Jesus, I want to obey You, and yet sometimes my desire to obey Your commands directly clashes with my anger towards others who, in my opinion, make stupid decisions and do foolish things. I feel __________, and I want _________, but I choose to submit my will and my desires to You today. I give you my hurt, my anger, and my frustration over _________. I invite You to forgive me, heal me, make me whole, and give me—through the power of Your Holy Spirit—a fresh compassion for others who don’t see things the way I do. I invite You to be patient through me with others, so that they can experience Your love for them.
Family Chat: Can you think of a person who is “mean” to you or doesn’t treat you fairly? How should you pray for them?
Take Action: Wrestle with God until your heart, your thoughts, your words, and your choices change.