Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’
Jesus had been alone that night, in the hills, praying, and I had come all the way from Sidon leaving my fishing for a couple of days to wait with a big crowd to see what he would do when he came down with his friends. We wanted to see him healing people, to feel his power, to touch him – but instead he started teaching us! At first it seemed to be especially for his followers, but then he looked straight at us and said:
“But I tell you who hear me, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who curse you”.
He just told us all about how to live- to accept being struck, or robbed – and to treat everyone just as we want to be treated. He said of course it’s easy to do good to those who have helped you, but Jesus was telling us to expect nothing in return, no reward for generosity or kindness. I had never heard anything like this before. It was alarming, thrilling, revolutionary. I was enthralled.
And then he told us what the reward actually was – that if we can love people like this, all people, we will receive a like love and more from God. If we are merciful, God will be merciful to us. If we do not criticise, or be judgemental to others, neither will God be to us. The more we forgive, and give, and love, the more we receive in return. Then Jesus looked down at one of the men near him, who was sharing his grain with the friend next to him, pressing it and shaking it down in the measuring cup, and pouring it so generously that it spilled out into the large pocket in his gown. He smiled at them, saying that if we poured out love like that, we would receive the same generous measure.
I thought, we are like pipes- God’s forgiveness is like water flowing through us. To not forgive others is like shutting off one end of your pipe. If no forgiveness flows out to others, God’s forgiveness cannot flow into us. Then I remembered teaching from our prophet Micah, who said
“What does the Lord require of thee, but to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God ?”
and I realised that Jesus’ teaching was not all new, but was bringing us back to our true faith.