Being Merciful to God
In Hebrews, chapter four, we are told, “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.” We don’t want stone hearts but soft and merciful hearts. But did you know that we can be merciful to God? This idea is spoken of in several places throughout the Bible and is in the form of a poignant question in Hosea 6:4 & 7, “ O Ephraim, what shall I do with you? O Judah your mercy (toward me) is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.” God concludes in verse 7, “they betrayed me.” So, how can we merciful to God? How can we have soft hearts toward Him? How can we avoid acting treacherously toward the Lord?
My seventy-one father is visiting. He told me today that he wanted to clean under my refrigerator! He plans on doing the refrigerator and then washing the entire kitchen floor. Isn’t my Dad nice? I told him that he doesn’t have to do this, but he is insisting! But imagine the following scenario: What if I came in from Bible study at Red Wing and decided to dump dirt all over the floor he is scrubbing? Picture my Dad, laboring over my kitchen, and I bring in the yucky stuff. Is this kind of behavior merciful to my Dad? The answer is, “No!” In one place in Isaiah, God is pictured as a kind of janitor, laboring in the muck of our sins and weaknesses and burdens. He’s cleaning it up and he’s glad to do it because of his great love for us. But if we continue in sin without even trying to do better aren’t we just mucking up God’s great work through Jesus?
Because of my ministry and because of my particular personality, I am often tempted to people-please, a fatal flaw if allowed to continue! In me, people-pleasing takes the form of making promises too quickly and then not being able to keep those promises. The author of Hebrews is telling me to have mercy, to have a tender heart, not only towards my fellow man but also towards God himself. I have shed many tears because I have hurt people important to me. But I also need to remember that I am hurting God, adding to his burdens. It is very easy to deceive oneself. People-pleasers tell themselves they are being kind, but there is no kindness in disobedience toward the Lord. In the end, we will fail both God and man.