This is Part 4 of 5 parts looking at “The Heart of the Issue relating to people.”
Every area of life is Sacred
Before we go any further, let’s understand that every area of life is sacred. There are no secular areas of life for the believer. Everything the believer does is for the glory of God. As Paul said, “Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31) Therefore, your worship is sacred, but so is your golf game, shopping trips and your time spent in front of the television or out in a park. Everything the Christian does is considered sacred.
And if everything is sacred, then everything is ministry. There is no business versus ministry. Everything is ministry. The book of Proverbs, as well as the whole of Scripture, has thousands of principles on how to function in every transaction, every shopping trip and every kind of pleasure so that it is regarded as sacred ministry. And IF it is sacred ministry, then we ought to think like God thinks and that is to exercise mercy before judgment. James wrote, “Judgment is merciless to one who shows no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (Jam. 2:13). That is much harder to live than to memorize or recite.
Exercising Mercy is Extremely Difficult
But exercising mercy is extremely difficult. Why? I’m glad you asked. When you exercise mercy, you might be dealing with a Jonah who abuses your mercy and remains angry and defiant. Your mercy may look like weakness and defiant (sinful) people may take advantage of that. That means if you are a parent of a child, you will become frustrated and want to choose another tactic, like crushing the child through all sorts of scolding, grounding, and/or spankings. But who is the parent? Who is supposed to be in control? Who is supposed to be god-like? The child?
On the other hand, you may choose a graduated level of discipline and allow your child to suffer the consequences. And you remain there all the time waiting to reach the heart, like God did with Jonah. You may even help the child do the right thing (behavioral change), like God helped Jonah get on track with doing his prophetic responsibilities, but still work on reaching the heart right after that. But your goal is always heart change, not behavioral change. When you get heart change, you’ll have the behavior change.
Part 5 will be posted tomorrow.