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Are You a Merciful Christian?
AUTHOR: Wilkerson, David
PUBLISHED ON: March 18, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN
PUBLISHED IN: Christian Living
TAGS: mercy

Times Square Church Pulpit Series
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Are You a Merciful Christian?

  By David Wilkerson
  December 2, 1996 

                 

    “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for
nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be
the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful
and to the evil.
    “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 6:35-
37).
    You probably remember the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in
Genesis.  Two angels, appearing as men, approached the gates of
Sodom.  Most likely they were dressed like any ordinary person.
    Abraham’s nephew Lot sat at the city gate, possibly in some
official rank.  (He may have been one of the city elders who
welcomed visitors).  When Lot saw the two strangers, he greeted
them — perhaps aware in his spirit of something supernatural in
their countenance.
    When the angels told Lot they were going to sleep in the
streets that night, Lot was horrified.  Scripture says Lot was a
righteous man, living in a wicked city full of homosexual mobs —
lusting, raping, violent men on the prowl.  Lot’s soul was vexed
by all the indescribable evil he saw in Sodom.  Day and night,
the society had grown steadily more vile.  Eventually Sodom’s
sins reached heaven — and now God had sent the two angels to
monitor the city.
    Lot immediately invited them to his house as overnight
guests.  He was so persistent that the angels agreed to go home
with him.  So Lot took them into his house and fed them.
    Yet before the angels could retire for the night, a noisy,
wild mob of homosexual men gathered on the street outside.  They
surrounded Lot’s house and pounded on the door, screaming, “Bring
out those two men!  Give them to us that we might know them” —
meaning, “Send them out so we can have intercourse with them.”
    What an unbelievable, ugly scene!  These wild men were
intent on gang-raping the two visiting strangers.  Lot was so
desperate, he did something inconceivable: He offered his two
daughters to the mob!  He told them, “Let me send out my
daughters instead of these men.  You can do with them as you
please.”  As a father of two daughters, I cannot comprehend Lot’s
action.  It absolutely strains my mind!
    After Lot refused to give up the two men, the Sodomites
pushed him aside and tried to break down the door.  The angels,
no doubt using supernatural strength, pulled Lot into the house
and shut the door behind them.  At this point, they had seen
enough; they knew they had to act.
    First, they placed a spell of blindness over the mob.  Talk
about the blinding power of lust: Even after being blinded, the
Sodomites staggered around, still trying to find the door to
Lot’s house.  They were under judgment and didn’t even know it!
    Next, the angels took Lot aside and told him, “In the
morning we’re going to destroy this place.  The cry of wickedness
has grown too loud in the Lord’s ears!  Now, go warn your sons-
in-law that you all must leave the city.  At dawn you and your
family must flee.  We can’t do anything until you’re gone!”
    Early the next morning, Lot tried to awaken his sons-in-law.
But the Bible says they scorned him.  They probably laughed at
him, rolled over and went back to sleep.  So the angels told Lot,
“Go now!  Take your wife and daughters and get out of the city.
Run and don’t look back!”
    But Lot lingered.  For some reason he couldn’t bring himself
to go.  In spite of all he’d seen and heard in Sodom, in spite of
the angels’ warnings, he hesitated.  Suddenly, the angels grabbed
him and his family by the hands and literally pulled them out of
Sodom.  The angels warned, “Judgment is about to fall.  Run to
the mountains — now!”
    Let me ask you: Why did God send angels to rescue Lot and
his family?  We know that Lot and his daughters ultimately were
saved out of Sodom, but his two sons-in-law and wife were
destroyed.  Why was Lot saved?  Why did God send angels to
literally pull this man out of destruction?
    Was it because of Lot’s morality?  Was it because God saw
something great in him?  No!  The answer is very simple: “…The
Lord being merciful unto him…brought him forth, and set him
without the city” (Genesis 19:16).  God was being merciful to
him!
    I see Lot as a type of remnant believer in these last days,
living in a wicked society about to be judged.  Right now America
is ripe for destruction; indeed, our nation is already under
judgment.  And Lot represents the righteous remnant church in the
midst of it, for the Bible calls Lot a righteous man (see 2 Peter
2:6-8).
    Yet, if God’s church today is righteous, it is only because
of the blood of Jesus Christ, and not because of any goodness or
morality the Lord has seen in us.  It is only out of his sheer
mercy that he came to us and pulled us out of judgment — even
when we hesitated to leave our sins!
    Think about it: When you were saved, the Spirit of God took
you by the hand, literally pulled you out of your sins, and set
you outside the reach of wickedness and rebellion.  He brought
you out of judgment, out of Sodom.  And perhaps you didn’t go
willingly; maybe he had to lead you out, as he did Lot.

                    It Is God’s Mercy Alone
                      That His People Are
                        Being Kept Today!

    We see the sins of our society mounting to heaven:
Sensuality, immorality and evil are growing bolder.  How is it
that we are not swallowed up in it?  Why have we not been carried
away with the moral landslide?
    You can talk about the wickedness of Sodom — but have you
read your newspaper lately?  Let me share just a single day’s
items I read recently in New York City’s Daily News:
    * “Michael, twenty-four years old, murdered and cut up the
body of his sixty-two-year-old homosexual lover.  The older lover
was suffocated by Michael with a plastic bag.  He threw the body
in the trunk of the car, drove to Lexington, Kentucky, and there
he dismembered the body and dumped the parts into trash cans.
Then Michael bought a metal detector and searched his victim’s
home for gold.  His lover had intimated there was gold in the
apartment.”
    * “A Bronx woman was shot and critically wounded after being
ambushed by her ex-husband.  After attacking his former wife,
Luis killed himself with a bullet to the head.  In his car,
police found an order of protection his wife had just obtained.
Luis had found her with a boyfriend and in a rage pumped two
bullets into her stomach.  Luis ran two blocks, then shot himself
in the head and died on the street.”
    * “Schools are in an uproar over six- and seven-year-old
boys kissing girls and writing dirty notes to them.  One seven-
year-old boy tore a button off a girl’s skirt.  More children are
being charged with sexual harassment.  It has become a national
concern.”
    * “A couple from Bogota, Colombia, with eighteen children
sold a pair of six-month-old twins for $300 and a small plot of
land.  The couple were jailed.  The twins evidently were sold to
an international child-smuggling ring.”
    On the same day, the following items appeared in the New
York Post:
    * “Five thousand mourners packed a high school to bid
farewell to two brutally slain cheerleaders.  The two teens were
reported missing when they failed to show up at school.  Their
dismembered body parts were found scattered over several miles.
The bodies had also been crushed.”
    * “A body was pulled out of the Harlem River with missing
arms.  It is thought to be the remains of a drug dealer called
Angel.”
    At this point, I had to stop reading.  Then it hit me:
Genesis never intimates that there was any dismemberment of
bodies in Sodom and Gomorrah.  There is no record of selling
babies, of gang killings, of abortions.  To our knowledge, they
didn’t have any of these things.  Nor did Sodom have TV or movies
to glorify violence.  They didn’t have a theater industry to
glorify sex.
    Yet, since Sodom, sin has had thousands of years to ripen
and become more savage, vile, evil, wicked.  Indeed, the Bible
says sin will grow increasingly worse.  And in this generation —
which is far more violent, bloody and wicked than Sodom and
Gomorrah — the only reason we are able to come to God’s house is
the everlasting mercy of Jesus Christ!  Mercy has literally
pulled us out of judgment, separating us from the wicked life we
led — even when we hesitated and lingered, not wanting to
forsake our sins and pleasures!
    Here at Times Square Church, there are many people whom God
has pulled out of alcoholism, prostitution, drug addiction,
adultery.  They know he didn’t pull them out because of some good
thing in them — but simply because he was merciful: “…The Lord
being merciful unto him…brought him forth, and set him without
the city” (Genesis 19:16).
    Picture Lot on a safe mountainside, looking out over Sodom
as it burned below.  No doubt he grieved over the loss of his
wife and sons-in-law.  And now the entire city was crumbling into
ashes before his eyes, along with its thousands of inhabitants.
    Don’t you wonder what Lot must have thought as he watched
the smoldering embers of that city?  Perhaps he asked, “Why save
me, Lord?  Why do many thousands lie charred, burned to ashes,
while I stand here safe and delivered?  Why did you save me?”
    Maybe you have asked the same question: “Why me, Lord?  Why
am I not lying out on the streets half-dead?  Why am I not one of
the millions of lost souls who curse the name of Jesus, who
carouse hopelessly, who are demon-possessed?  Why have you saved
these people all around me in church?  Why are they not in some
bar getting stoned, or lying in some lonely room crazed by
drugs?”
    I tell you, it is all because of the absolute mercy of God!
The Lord, being merciful to us, brought us forth and set us
outside this doomed society.  We all deserved to be consumed —
but he had mercy on us!

                      You Cannot Read the
                        History of God’s
                      Dealings With Israel
                      Without Being Amazed
                      at How Merciful He
                        Was Toward Them.

    In Deuteronomy 4, Moses warned Israel that in “the latter
days” they could corrupt themselves, making graven images and
doing evil that would provoke God to anger.  And if they did so,
God would punish them, scatter them and turn them over to
idolatry.
    Israel did turn away from the Lord time after time,
backsliding continually.  Yet the Lord never gave up on these
people.  He showed them mercy after mercy, reaching out to them
again and again with love and compassion:
    “But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou
shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all
thy soul.  When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are
come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord
thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (For the Lord thy
God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy
thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto
them” (Deuteronomy 4:29-31).
    What an amazing picture: God stayed with Israel even though
they provoked him to anger.  He fed them, clothed them and walked
with them through the wilderness all those years.  That is the
absolute mercy of God!
    How many times have you failed the Lord?  How often have you
had evil thoughts, things you didn’t think you were even capable
of thinking?  How many times have you said hurtful things to
others?  How many things have you done that were unlike Jesus and
grieved the Holy Spirit?  How many times has your disobedience
brought down on your head all kinds of tribulation, sorrow and
suffering?
    Yet just at the time you deserved to be punished — to be
put to public shame, because you sinned against God’s love — God
instead embraced you and showed you mercy.  He did not forsake
you or destroy you.  He had compassion on you.  And he put it in
your heart to return and obey him!
    I hope that as you read this message, you’re not smugly
saying, “This is not for me.”  I urge you — remove from your
mind any thought that you have ever deserved God’s mercy!  None
of us deserves to be where we are today.  No one has received
mercy because of any personal goodness.  No!  Instead, we cry
with the psalmist, “For his merciful kindness is great toward
us…” (Psalm 117:2).  “Thou, O Lord, art a God full of
compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy
and truth” (86:15).
    I have a question for everyone reading this message: Do you
acknowledge that God has been merciful and kind toward you?  Has
he been slow to anger about your sins and failures?
    This poses another question: Are you in turn a merciful,
kind Christian to others?  “Be ye therefore merciful, as your
Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36).  “…the righteous sheweth
mercy, and giveth” (Psalm 37:21).
    Here at Times Square Church, we have called for a thirty-
day
prayer chain — twenty-four hours a day, with hundreds of people
calling on God around the clock.  We’re asking the Lord to help
us reach the lost, to show us how to warn the wicked and
backslidden.
    Yet in the midst of this prayer chain, the Holy Ghost began
dealing with me — and I wondered if our prayers had the right
emphasis.  Maybe instead we ought to have been praying for
ourselves; after all, why would God send new converts into our
midst if we weren’t ready to receive such needy people with
kindness, mercy and grace?  Shouldn’t we have been praying about
our lack of mercy and kindness to other Christians?  Shouldn’t we
have known God wouldn’t give us a greater love for lost souls,
when we were not yet like him — full of compassion, gracious,
longsuffering, plenteous in mercy?
    I could envision newly saved Christians coming to church who
wouldn’t seem very holy or sanctified: young women in short
skirts, young men in dreadlocks.  I couldn’t help thinking, “How
many merciless saints are going to see these young people and
say, ‘Go get a haircut before you come in next time,’ or, ‘Go put
on a proper dress’?”
    I remember as a young evangelist preaching at a crusade
before 5,000 people in Los Angeles.  At least 2,000 of those
people were Christian hippies.  They’d just been born again and
were brought out of the hippie culture.  Many of these young
people lay sprawled before me on the floor, barefoot and wearing
long hair and tattered clothes.
    I was dressed spiffily that night, in a blue blazer with a
sharp tie, the latest bell-bottom slacks and shiny shoes.  When I
took the stage, I started railing on those kids.  I said, “Some
of you look awful.  Put on some decent clothes and get a haircut
before you come back tomorrow night!”
    Backstage after the service, I was met by a delegation of
those long-haired, young hippie Christians.  One of them ran his
fingers down my fashionable coat collar, saying, “What a
beautiful suit.”  Then he looked up at me and said, “Brother
David, we couldn’t see Jesus tonight.”  “Why not?” I asked.  He
answered, “Your clothes got in the way.”  I had considered them
to be too dressed down — and they considered me to be too
dressed up!
    Those kids weren’t making fun of me.  They were sincere.
They wept as they told me, “We believe you’re a man of God.  But
you’re missing something.”  I know now that it was mercy I
lacked.  I never railed on that subject again.  God taught me a
hard lesson — one I pray remains in my heart.

                    “He Shall Have Judgment
                    Without Mercy, That Hath
                      Shewed No Mercy; and
                    Mercy Rejoiceth Against
                    [Triumphs Over] Judgment”
                          (James 2:13).

    Many Christians think it is enough to be pure and
sanctified.  We think that is the number-one issue — and that
all we need to do is abstain from evil, come out from the world
and remain clean.  As long as we don’t smoke, drink, fornicate or
commit adultery, we think we are pure.
    No one has preached stronger messages on holiness and purity
over the years than I have.  But according to James, purity is
merely the first matter of concern: “The wisdom that is from
above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be
intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and
without hypocrisy” (James 3:17, emphasis mine).  Yes, first we
are to be clean.  But mercy, grace and kindness are to follow!
    You can have the purest heart in your church — you can be
spotless — and yet still be mean, unkind, without graciousness!
It is a terrible shame upon Christ’s body that people on the
streets can be more kind and gentle than many in the church.  I
heard one Christian woman tell her husband, “Honey, I’m not
asking much of you.  I just that you treat me as kindly as you do
your friends.  Please, talk to me the way you talk to them.  Let
me be like those you associate with outside of our home.”  What a
shame — that any wife should ever have to ask this of her
Christian husband!
    Some of the most quarrelsome, argumentative, caustic, mean-
spirited people are those who claim to be Spirit-filled
believers.  Many such people are faithful tithers; they never
miss a service; they are unspotted by the world.  But they are
partial, showing mercy and kindness only to those who are kind to
them.  There is no gentleness or graciousness about them.  They
would rather crucify and destroy a brother or sister with gossip
and slander than extend mercy.  You hate to be around them —
because you know they’re going to chop you up!
    Let me tell you what I believe is the cause of all
unkindness and mercilessness in God’s house: Christians who show
no mercy, who are judgmental, who act and speak unkindly, have
never understood or appreciated God’s mercy to themselves.
    Some Christians are harsh and unforgiving because they have
never understood how close to being damned they were at one time.
They never considered the exceeding sinfulness of their own sins;
they took lightly their debt of sin, along with the merciful
grace God extended to them.  They didn’t understand how truly
filthy and ugly their sins were — and how much grace and mercy
they needed!
    Jesus told a parable about a servant who was forgiven a
great debt.  This man found grace and mercy with his master.  But
he took that grace and mercy for granted!  Immediately after he
was forgiven, he went out and began to choke a man who owed him a
small, insignificant amount, demanding, “Pay me what you owe me!”
When the debtor asked the man for mercy, he refused and had the
debtor jailed.
    Why was this man so judgmental?  Why did he lack mercy?  It
was because he did not consider his own unworthiness!  He did not
understand how hopeless he was, how exceedingly sinful his own
sin was.  He did not appreciate the danger he had been in — how
close to death he’d been — before he’d been shown mercy.
Indeed, when the master found out what the ungrateful man had
done to the other debtor, he had him thrown into jail for life. 
    While I was working on this message, the Lord stopped me and
said, “David, forget your message right now.  I want to talk to
you about your judgmental spirit, your lack of mercy.”
    I thought, “Me, Lord?  I’m one of the most merciful
preachers in America.”  But he began to review all the things I’d
said to young preachers — things I’d blurted out sharply.  Then
he reminded me of all the insensitive things I’d said to people
who had failed, people I’d given up on.
    That session absolutely wiped me out.  I wept before the
Lord.  When I asked God how this could be, he answered, “You’ve
forgotten what I did for you, the incredible mercy I had to show
you.  How many times did I dig you out of something that could
have destroyed you?  You would’t be here without my mercy!”
    Beloved, you have to look at the pit you dug for your own
life — the pit where you’d be without God’s mercy — before you
can offer mercy to somebody else.  Only then can you say, “Oh,
God, I know what you did for me.  And you can do the same for my
friend in sin.  At one time, I was just as wicked in your sight.
I can’t judge this friend, because you had mercy on me!”
    That is where you must begin!  Are you honest enough in your
heart to admit, “I really do want to be merciful, loving, kind
and gracious.  But I have to admit — I am not the kindest of
Christians.  I don’t show mercy as I ought.  I’m quick-tempered,
sharp with my tongue.  I have a tendency to judge people too
quickly and give up on them too easily.  I’m not as gentle as I
ought to be.”
    Dear saint, this message is not meant to rail on you or
lecture you.  Rather, I believe I have a word of hope for you.
Let me explain to you why you may not have reached such a place
yet — why you find it so hard to be the kind, gracious, merciful
Christian you want to be. 
    We find the key in Psalm 119.  The psalmist makes a powerful
statement here: “Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for
my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant” (Psalm
119:76).  The meaning here is, “Oh Lord, your word tells me I am
to be comforted by the knowledge that you are merciful and full
of compassion to me.  Let me draw comfort from that great truth!”
    If you were to look up the words “merciful” and “mercy” in a
concordance, you’d find hundreds of references.  God’s word
overwhelms us with numerous promises of his marvelous grace,
lovingkindness and compassion.  He wants to impress upon us that
he is merciful, longsuffering, slow to anger about our failures,
weaknesses and temptations.
    All God’s promises of mercy are given to comfort us in our
trials.  When we fail God, we think he is mad at us, ready to
judge us.  But instead, he wants us to know, “I will see you
through.  Simply repent.  I am not mad at you.  I am merciful,
full of grace and love for you.  Draw comfort from this!”  How
comforting to know his mercy will never be withdrawn from us.
How comforting to know that when we sin or fail, his mercy and
love toward us grow even stronger.
    Yet, unless we draw comfort from the mercy God shows to us,
we are in no position to give mercy that offers comfort to
others.  Only when we experience the absolute mercifulness of God
will there be an overflow of mercy to everyone around us.  We
become merciful people because we are living in the mercy of God
ourselves!

                      I Want to Show You an
                      Important Truth the
                    Holy Spirit Would Have
                            You See!

    Every time you show mercy — every time you are kind and
gracious to another believer — you are giving comfort.
    A man from our church stopped me after a recent service.  He
said, “Brother Wilkerson, let me tell you why I attend this
church.  My mother just recently passed away.  She was ninety.
For the past four years she was bedfast, and I took care of her.
    “At the church I used to attend, I had to leave every Sunday
service early to go and tend to her.  After a while, the pastor
got tired of it.  Before the whole congregation he told me, ‘If
you’re going to go, go now, before I start to preach.’
    “Here at Times Square Church, no one has ever said a word to
me about leaving early.  That may seem like a small thing, but to
me it’s a big thing.  I didn’t have to explain to everyone here
that I was going home to take care of my mother.”
    That’s where mercy must be shown — in the ordinary, day-to-
day things.  Sometimes mercy can be just a smile, or an arm
around someone’s shoulder.  It can be as simple as a sympathetic
countenance or word to someone who’s hurting.
    But you can never offer mercy if you’re constantly thinking,
“God must be mad at me.  I’m going to take a fall — I just know
it.  I’m that kind of person!”  You can’t rejoice in God’s grace
and love if you always think you’re just one step out of hell.
    How can you offer comfort to others, when you have not yet
learned yourself how to draw comfort in God’s mercy to you?
“…that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble,
by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of
God…whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and
salvation” (2 Corinthians 1:4, 6).
    This is the primary reason why so many Christians are not
merciful: It is because they have never been comforted in the
mercifulness of God toward them.  They do not know how to rest in
his mercy.  They have heard God is merciful, and they hope he
will be merciful to them — but they are not sure of it.  They
have no comforting peace!
    But merciful Christians are the Lord’s comforters.  And they
can show and speak mercy and lovingkindness, because they have
experienced the incredible comfort of God’s mercy to them. 
    When I’m face to face with someone who has failed, whose
past is wicked and vile, and my flesh may want to rebuke or
reject him, I remember how merciful God has been to me — how he
comforted me with his love and compassion when I needed it.  And
suddenly I remind myself: Jesus came to seek that which was lost.
His mercy extends to all.  Nothing, and no one, is impossible
with God.
    Then my heart softens.  I can look at that sinner and say to
myself, “Lord, I was no better.  In your eyes, I was just as
wicked.  You forgave me.  Help me forgive him!”  I can now act as
a comforter, offering love and tender compassion — because by
the comfort by which I have been comforted, I am able to comfort
those who also need comforting.
    Christian, you need no lecture, no thrashing.  You only need
to search God’s word, and to believe all he has said about his
mercy to you.  So, settle your troubled soul by appropriating it.
Be comforted in God’s mercifulness to you — and you will
overflow with that mercy to others!

=================================================================
When in New York City Visit Times Square Church
Located at 51st Street and Broadway (Manhattan)

Schedule of Services
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Sunday Afternoon…………………………. 3:00
Sunday Evening…………………………… 6:00
Tuesday Evening [Prayer, healing, communion]… 7:00
Thursday Evening [Intercessory Prayer]……… 7:00
Friday Evening…………………………… 7:00
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