Rev. Jaerock Lee
James 3 : 17
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In the United States during the Great Depression in 1930’s, an elderly lady was caught stealing a loaf of bread. Her daughter was sick in bed and they hadn’t eaten for three days. She said she had to do something because her grand children were starving.
What kind of sentence would you like to give to her?
Those who heard the story obviously wanted her to be forgiven, but the judge sentenced her to a fine of 10 dollars.
It was not a small amount of money at that time. Obviously she didn’t have the money to pay the fine, and she now had to go to jail.
The spectators began to become noisy, and the judge continued. “I sentence her to a fine but I am also responsible for her, for I live a wealthy life while she is suffering, so I will pay the fine. Also, everyone in this court is responsible in the same way, and you shall give 50 cents each to help her.”
The people there willingly paid the money and the judge gave it to the poor lady.
No matter how pitiful the situation of the offender is, the judge has to respect the law.
But because the judge had pity on the offender, he came up with a way to both keep the law and help the poor lady.
If we have this kind of wisdom in mercy, how warm and beautiful our lives will be!
This is the 7th session of the series “The Wisdom from Above”.
I hope you will have overflowing wisdom of goodness through this message.
And through this, I pray in the name of the Lord that your lives will be overflowing with abundance and emotions.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the wisdom from above, is first of all, pure and then peaceable.
If we have peace in us, then next we will have gentleness and reasonableness.
If we cultivate gentleness and reasonableness with generosity and a broad heart in the truth, we will naturally bear the fruit of mercy and good fruits.
Mercy generally means to have pity on others.
But spiritually, mercy is not just to have pity on others. It is to consider one soul more precious than the whole world.
Even though a person seems to be completely hopeless, as long as he has life we should not give up on him but instead we must try to lead him to salvation.
When we show this kind of mercy, we will be able to reap various fruits through the works of the Holy Spirit, and these fruits become good fruits.
In this mercy are various aspects including mercy of forgiveness, mercy of punishment, and mercy of alms-giving.
First, let us look into the mercy of forgiveness. The heart of our God is mercy itself.
If God does not forgive the sinners, but deals with them strictly according to the Law, who in this world would survive?
But because God shows mercy, we can have the chances for repentance and also reach complete salvation.
Like the heart of our Father God, the heart of the Lord is also mercy itself.
Matthew 12:20 talks about Jesus saying, “A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out, Until He leads justice to victory.” Jesus endured with even those people who seemed to have no hope of receiving salvation who were like battered reeds and smoldering wicks.
Jesus said He did not come to call the righteous but to call the sinners and bring them to repentance.
He preached forgiveness and the gospel even to those sinners who were despised by others such as tax collectors and prostitutes.
Jesus performed such amazing works and did only good works, but still there were people who opposed Him until the end.
There was a person like Judas Iscariot who sold out Jesus.
Jesus did not just forsake even these people saying, “You just don’t have the heart to receive salvation.”
He taught them the truth until the last moment to open the way of salvation for them. Finally, He died on the cross and opened the way of salvation for all mankind.
Those souls who are saved through the price of the blood of Jesus are the good fruit that Jesus bore through mercy.
Brothers and sisters, Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
God tells us to forgive each other as God and the Lord have mercy on us and forgive us.
But to have mercy and forgive others, we have to understand from the standpoint of others. We may not be able to understand others with our own viewpoint, but if we understand them putting ourselves in their shoes, we can forgive them.
For example, suppose unbelieving parents or husbands treat you badly. Then, you may have grumbles and resentment against them if you don’t understand them.
If you don’t’ understand them, you cannot love them, and you just try to avoid them out of fear and disappointment.
If you understand others from the heart thinking, “My husband cannot really understand me for he does not know about spiritual realm. That is why he may oppose my faith,” then, you can show mercy towards him.
You can even blame yourself for the persecution he brings on you and pray in prayers of intercession for him to be forgiven.
When you can offer such a prayer of mercy, God can move the heart of your husband.
Also, when you talk to him, you will receive the wisdom to move his heart.
You will realize how you can make him understand since he is not a believer.
Something very natural and obvious for a believing wife may not be understood by the unbelieving husband.
So, when talking about church or faith, if the wife speaks only from her viewpoint, they will only have arguments.
If they have arguments, their feelings will be hurt, and the husband will have more discomfort in his heart.
So, you should not just say your husband is wrong, but you have to understand his heart and think from his viewpoint. Only then will you receive wisdom.
God will give you appropriate parables or examples, and you will find how to explain in a way that your unbelieving husband can also understand.
It’s the same when you interact with the church members. Some people, even though they are leaders in the church, they complain over every matter and give hard times to others.
There are people who have listened to the truth for a long time but still have falsehood. They do not change at all and try to cheat and deceive others.
When we see these people we may not be able to understand them. We may think, “After listening to so much word of truth, why don’t they change at all?”
But if we understand others, we can have mercy on them.
They have listened to the truth and they know it, so they also want to go into spirit. They also want to love God and become strength to the church and the shepherd.
But, since they were born and in their circumstances as they were growing up, a lot of untruths have been planted in them.
So, they have little strength to change their heart into the truth.
They know in their brain that they have to act in goodness, but they cannot really change their heart into the truth. Then, more than anybody else, they themselves will suffer.
As they are not able to cast away flesh, they cannot be filled with Spirit or be prosperous. How pitiful this situation is! So, even if they complain and show ill-tempers, we don’t hate them but rather have only love toward them.
Even if we face some damage of disadvantage because of them, we can endure with them and accept them.
Thinking over the time since the opening of the church until now, there were many kinds of church members. There were also many things that happened that could not be understood at all using common sense.
Some leaders disobeyed many times and caused some very difficult times for the church.
Some people who had greatly experienced God’s works and given glory to God suddenly changed and opposed the church.
Some people explained the difficult situations that they were in and asked for financial help, and I helped as best I could although I had very little to spare at the time.
But later even these people repaid grace with evil. But I have never mentioned any of their names from the pulpit. It’s because I was worried that they might spew even more evil and go the way that would certainly put them into death.
If somebody cannot accept the advice or a rebuke, but stumble because of it and leave the church and God, it is better to endure with him.
And even for those who have already left the church, I don’t mention their faults and leave the door open for them to repent and come back.
Even when there are things that could not be understood at all, I only thought in goodness and just quietly took care of the matter.
When I saw those who were disobeying with their fleshly thoughts, I had mercy on them thinking they must be having a hard time just having such thoughts.
Even when there were people who caused great suffering and personal damage to me, I rather gave thanks to God in prayer.
I was worried that if I felt it was a hardship and lamented because of them, God might forsake them. That is why I prayed for them with thanksgiving and asked for the mercy of God towards them.
But I am not saying we have to forgive all things unconditionally just because we consider even one soul very precious.
Forgiveness is meant to save the soul of the person. But sometimes, not covering a person’s fault, but to bring it to their attention by rebuking the action is mercy intended to save that person.
If he does not understand that point, he may not realize what kind of wall of sin he has built between him and God. Then, he may fall into the way of death.
Thus, the second aspect of mercy is the mercy of punishment. It sounds like forgiveness and punishment are in opposition, but in fact they are not.
It’s because the punishment in mercy is not done judgmentally, with condemnation or with hatred, but it is done with love. It’s the same situation as the punishment allowed by God.
In Hebrews chapter 12, the latter half verse 5 and in verse 6 it says, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
Hebrews 12:8 says, “But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
Because God loves us and because we are His children, God may punish us when we do something wrong.
But if we pile up too much of a wall of sin and God turns His back on us, there won’t even be any further punishments.
Sometimes, when some of our church workers have built up such a great wall of sin against God, God lets me know in detail, but He tells me not to reprove them.
It’s because there were many warnings for them but they did not listen. And if I reveal their faults and reprove them, they will act in more evilness than before.
In this kind of case, I cannot help it. I just cling to God with tears to open the way of salvation for them, but I cannot even address it to them directly.
Brothers and sisters, I hope you will all act by the will of God in all things so that you will have nothing deserving reprove or punishment.
Even if you go through punishments or trials because you are not perfect yet, I hope you will walk in the way that is the wisest.
Some people try to cover their faults and continue to give excuses to avoid any reprove.
Or because their shortcomings are revealed, they become very disheartened.
These things are in fact very foolish.
If you are wise, you have to turn from sins immediately just like David when he was rebuked for his sin.
When we repent with a humble heart, God will surely forgive us and recover us even from difficulties.
Of course, we should not just repent with the lips but with the heart.
Then, if we live in the light and bear the fruit of repentance, God will not even remember our previous sins.
Brothers and sisters, sometimes, because of your positions or in particular situations, you may come to know about some faults of brothers in faith and you have to give them advice, reprove, or rebuke them.
In this kind of a case, you have to check your heart very carefully.
You may cover it as advice given in love, but is it not an evil mind that points out the sin of others within your own righteousness and framework of thought?
Is it not that you are trying to teach others and control them as you want them to act with the loftiness of your thoughts? You always have to check these things.
In a case where you give advice without mercy, if that person does not accept your advice, then you may have ill-feelings against him and coldly turn your back on him.
Or, you will think he looks down upon you and you feel your pride will suffer. So, you will rebuke him with stronger words in an effort to make him admit his fault.
This kind of rebuke is worse than not doing it at all. Even though we quote the word of God, we cannot see the works of the Holy Spirit unless it is done with love.
It will not let the other person understand or give him life. But rather it will only cause ill-feelings or dishearten him.
That person may be trying to do better realizing his fault, but as he hears advice or criticism that contains ill-feelings, he may be discouraged and just fall away.
Therefore, when we give advice to a person or punish somebody, we have to do it within the context of mercy and with a true understanding of his heart from his standpoint.
Also, we have to pray for him and give advice with a love that can even give our life for him. When we have this kind of heart, we can guide him to the truth even through punishment if necessary.
If we truly have worried concerns about him and have mercy on him, we will be wise even when we reprove him.
In the book of Revelation, we see the Lord rebuking the church of Ephesus.
Before He rebuked the church of Ephesus, He first praised what they had done well point by point.
When their heart was opened after hearing such praises, He pointed out what they had done wrong and then continued to give them stern warning and rebuke about it.
After rebuking them, He praised them one more time concerning something they had done well.
In having given the reprove, He considered everything so that the others could gain strength and do better. I hope you will also utilize this kind of wisdom to open the hearts of the others.
In particular, you parents have to be very careful when you educate your children. When the children do something wrong, their parents have to correct it.
The children don’t have enough strength in self discipline to keep their hearts themselves, so sometimes the parents must not spare the rod so that the children can firmly understand what is right and what is wrong.
But at this time, the parents must not interject their anger, frustration, or ill-feelings in their rebuke and punishment.
Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Some parents say they are reproving their children of their faults, but they get angry at their children, and they are not able to control their feelings.
They don’t just let them realize their faults but hurt their feelings with many kinds of words saying, “I told you so many times and why can’t you just listen to me?” I don’t even know why I gave birth to you!”
Or, “I don’t need a child like you. Just leave this house!”
They provoke the children and depress their children with such words.
Or they hurt their children’s pride by comparing them with other children saying something like, “Your friend next door is such a good boy and he excels in studies. Why do you always have to be like this?”
If you were in the position of the child, would you respond with true repentance after hearing these words?
Would you think, “I have done something really wrong. I am sorry I caused trouble for my parents. I should do better next time”?
Or, would you feel rebellious and respond with backlash and complaints!
Even little children are very precious souls before God just like grown-up adults. Even when you are dealing with your own children you have to consider their hearts and feelings with mercy.
But at the same time you shouldn’t think like, “If I deal with him right now it will be in anger anyway, so I’d better not say anything to him at all.”
You have to ask God to give you wisdom so you can make them understand without hurting their feelings.
In the next session, I will talk about mercy in alms-giving.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, mercy is to put ourselves in the shoes of someone else and understand their heart.
When we do that, we can gain wisdom to deal with them with mercy.
With this wisdom, we can strengthen those who are tired and comfort those who are hurt.
I urge you to serve and strengthen others putting yourselves in their positions and guide them to the way of life.
Even when you see those who are not living in the truth, I hope you will look at them with eyes of goodness thinking about how you can save them.
Matthew 5:7 says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
As said, I pray in the name of the Lord that God will show His mercy to you who are showing mercy to others, and bless you abundantly in spirit and body.