A Ministry of Mercy! Print E-mail

A Ministry of Mercy!
by Bishop Samuel Smith

"Is there a reason why the long prophesied "Revival Breakthrough" tarries in this late hour? Read Bishop Smith's article and ask yourself; "Could this be the missing key?"

One of the most heartwarming accounts recorded in the Holy Bible is that concerning the Good Samaritan. Countless sermons and parallels have been extracted from this classic example of mercy. Yet, often in our study for types and shadows and symbolism, we are apt to overlook the magnitude of the simple act of compassion performed by this "minister of mercy," the Good Samaritan.

Did I say, "minister"? Yes, indeed, he was a minister! For the word "minister" implies "one who renders service to, or performs in behalf of a cause." For instance, it is common knowledge that one who is a Minister of the Gospel stands in behalf of Christ and serves humanity in need of the Gospel. By the way of comparison, one who ministers to those in need of mercy, is in fact, a "minister of mercy."
Who will deny that the Gospel of Christ was founded upon mercy? "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son..."(John 3:16). It was mercy that prompted Christ to "...seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). The Christian Gospel and Mercy are inseparable!

Too often we who claim the ultimate in salvation are doctrinally rich, spiritually blessed, but poor in compassion and patience with one another. The Apostle Paul recognized the danger of this condition. Anointed of God, he wrote, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal" (1 Corinthians 13:1). Paul was simply saying, "Though I be gifted of God, but lack love and understanding for others, I am useless to the cause of Christ."

It is not difficult for those of us who profess salvation to observe and zealously sanction God's forgiveness extended to a lowly sinner. After all, there is no reason why our approval shouldn't come easily; we aren't personally involved! This is between God and the "other fellow." But when we are directly involved with someone else, are we as forgiving and merciful as God is? When somebody has trespassed against us, can we so easily and readily forgive? Jesus said, "... if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:15).

Our Bible doctrine and standard are non-negotiable! To compromise these would be heresy. However, within the Church, it is possible that we are sometimes more critical in our dealing with others of like precious faith than God is. For no two people see eye to eye on every minute detail. Paul and Barnabas disagreed sharply and went their separate ways, yet both were used of God, and later worked together again. If, within the boundaries of righteousness, it does occur, then let us disagree, but not become disagreeable; let us differ, but not strive to destroy those with whom we differ.

No one but Almighty God knows the many who have walked the lonely road that "their unique personal calling" has charted before them. Observe the man forsaken by those once dear to him, not because he has sinned against God, but because he has violated the mind-set of some. Regardless that his motives and goals may be as pure as the driven snow, he falls victim to the disapproval of the crowd. Remember, here is a soul for whom Christ died! Why not consider this soul carefully and patiently?

Paul admonished the Galatian Church, "Brethern, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." (Gal 6:1). Notice Paul didn't use the word "sin", but "if a man be taken in a fault", or maybe what appears to be a fault, we are to exhibit mercy and restore in meekness.

But all too often the opposite occurs, and the fury of the flesh is unleashed. Suspicions and rumors spread unchecked! Vicious tongues are murderously wielded! Finally, wounded and crushed, this soul falls by the wayside, a spiritual casualty. Oh, where is someone who cares enough to bind his wounds and encourage him in the Lord? Sadly, many times there is no one.

But rest assured there are the many who are more than willing to believe the worst. With these, the base, carnal nature of mankind prevails at the sight of the weakened and dying; "Pile on while he is down! Finish him off!" Jesus rebuked such, saying: "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven" (Luke 6:36, 37).

What a tragedy that unforgiving hearts and unjust condemnation have contributed to the creation of so many spiritual cemeteries. It has been said, and to our shame it is all too true: "The church is the only army that destroys it's wounded." Unless the problem is remedied, the fatality list will continue to climb. Long ago Christ established the only cure: "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12). If we really are the followers of Christ, then along with the preservation of Bible doctrine, it will take a continuation of the pure "love of God" manifested in our lives to convince a lost world that we indeed possess both the "spirit and truth" of the Gospel of Christ.

There is a place near the heart of God for the lonely and afflicted. For as the prophesied Lamb of God, Jesus, experienced Gethsemane and Calvary. He felt the heartache of abandonment, and the sting of rejection by those whom he loved. He endured the painful accusations of those whom he had done no wrong, yet whose emotions had been inflamed by others with the ability to condemn and to distort the facts to their own advantage.

In the safety of the present it is easy for one to boldly proclaim: "Had I stood below Pilate's balcony, I would have defended Christ before the jeering mob. At Calvary I would have challenged the cruel Romans to put away their mallet and spikes!" But would you really have been merciful to Jesus? Would I? The surprising answer to this question is found in Jesus' own words, "I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not...Inasmuch as ye did it not to the least of these, ye did it not to me" (Matthew 25:43, 45). One's relationship with his fellowman is an indication of his relationship with God. John, the beloved, explained: "...for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (John 4:20).

More often than we care to admit, we all have encountered those pitifully wounded in spirit. How comforting if only someone tried to understand. What healing power an encouraging word would possess. But, the "spirit of the age" is akin to that of the priest and Levite who neglected the wounded man by the wayside: DON'T GET INVOLVED! After all, neither the priest nor the Levite was guilty of the original attack. Yet, in the end, their neglect was just as responsible for the victim's critical condition as were the weapons of his assailants! "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy..." (James 2:13).

The Good Samaritan to whom I refer as a "minister of mercy" was human. No doubt thoughts like these crossed his mind as he viewed the bleeding victim: "Should I get involved? Perhaps this is a trap, a set-up, and he will turn on me!" But this Minister of Mercy had simple faith in the eternal power of RIGHT, to know that its rewards far outweigh the risks involved.

Today, if each believer would purge the petty fears and suspicions from the recesses of his mind, and simply treat his neighbor in a way that is just in the sight of God, the results would be honorable and blessed. For this is the will of God: "...and what doeth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8). Solomon, endowed with divine wisdom, wrote, "Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So, shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man" (Proverbs 3:3, 4).

Our beloved heritage in Christ must be retained, therefore, I am not an advocate of "peace at any price." Yet among the fellowship of the blood redeemed Church of the living God, l do desire the peace that Christ gives. A peace that is only attainable when "mercy" becomes an active way of life with each child of God, not just a figure of speech.

Perhaps God has, or has not called you to minister in sermon or in song. Nevertheless, there is an often neglected, yet so important ministry that is open to "all" who will fill it, and the need has never been greater for a "Ministry of Mercy."

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