Core Training 2012 (05): Mercy Ministry
Core Training (5): Mercy Ministry
1 John 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 3:17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 3:18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
In our church vision we say: Living out our biblical faith, renewed through covenantal worship, leads us to build community within the congregation and reach out beyond the congregation . . . From worship flows mercy. “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Heb. 13:15-16). Giving to the poor in Jerusalem is also spoken of in worship terms and captures the mission of Jesus: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2Cor 8:9, cf 1Cor. 16:2, Rom. 15:25-28). Likewise in the center of 1 John we have a core command.
The Reason for showing mercy is because we have received mercy (v16). “He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” The salvation we have received is through Christ’s work and received through grace, not on the basis of our works. It is undeserved. But this grace moves us to give. Our undeserved mercy received is demonstrated in mercy given to others (also undeserving).
The Response of showing mercy is because we have God’s love (v17). This section of 1 John is the center of the book (in it parallel/chiastic structure) and is the emphatic message. Love for the brethren is the repeated theme of “doing righteousness” in this epistle. We show that we have life in Him when we respond by meeting the needs of brethren and others. “While we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:10). When we act mercifully we show the love of God abides or lives in us.
The Reality of showing mercy is validated in action (v18). John contrasts “word or with tongue” with “deed and truth.” Actions embodying truth are not sentiments which never materialize. Feeling sympathy for those in need is condemned unless it motivates actions. Make this more of a reality in your life: a) When you know of a need, act on it. b) Practice giving away “the world’s goods” regularly (e.g., Salvation Army, Goodwill). c) Show mercy in whatever way you can (encouragement, service, care, etc.).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more