One problem the religious leaders during Jesus’ ministry had was majoring in minors. The statement of Christ:
Matthew 23:23 NKJV 23 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
Hosea 6:6 NKJV 6 For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
Micah 6:8 NKJV 8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
Gratitude is the foundation for what follows. When It finally dawns on me: what God has done for me, how can I not feel thankful, profoundly so, and want to show Him that I appreciate His kindness?
1 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV 7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
James 1:17-18 NKJV 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
Humility is the result of gratitude. If I am created by God (in His image BTW) and blessed by God – then what is so special about me because of something I have done myself? Perhaps it is time to revisit the parable of the Pharisee and publican.
Luke 18:9-14 NKJV 9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
I have listed humility in the middle of this trilogy, and I think it is pivotal. If I am humble, I will probably do the other two. Here are some “Humility Helps”:
- Begin listing your own shortcomings
- Spend more time thinking about your blessings than about your perceived needs
- Do not wear your feelings on your sleeve, determine that you cannot be offended
- In a time of conflict, carefully evaluate your own thoughts. Is this a true issue, or simply some drama I want to participate in? Is it that big of a deal? Does it really matter? Is this my way of getting attention? Be ready to ‘move on.’
- Try real hard to remember the example of Jesus. Meditate on Him.
Mercy is what I will naturally feel toward others if I have mastered gratitude and humility. It should come automatically for the thankful, humble Christian. By definition, the person needing mercy is undeserving of it.
Ephesians 4:32 NKJV 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
1 Peter 2:21-23 NKJV 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth” [quoted from Isaiah 53.9] 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;