This sermon is part of the sermon series "Earthy Spirituality". See series.
Recently our church softball thoroughly trounced our opponents. The game ended with what's called the mercy rule: when one team is ahead by 15 runs or more, the officials stop the game before it gets downright humiliating. As we were approaching the point of the mercy rule, we weren't acting very merciful. We were still hitting hard, running hard, and enjoying every minute of it. At the end of the game, one of our teammates scolded us: "Guys, I'm embarrassed by our behavior. We know what it's like to get creamed—it happens to us often. We don't like it when other teams rub it in our faces. Why should we treat our opponents like trash? We should show honor and respect even in victory." We all hung our heads in shame, because he was absolutely right. We all participated in our unmerciful, but very happy, trouncing.
Thankfully, our Lord Jesus Christ doesn't have days when he fails to show mercy. In fact, my softball teammate had an excellent point: because God has shown us mercy in Christ, we should display that same mercy to others. If we say we love God, follow Jesus, and have been touched by the power of the Holy Spirit, then it should show in the way we view and treat others—even our enemies.
In true, biblically grounded spirituality is an inseparable link between how you love God and how you love people. If we fail to do justice to people that need it; if we fail to share our resources with a world in need; if we hold bitterness in our hearts towards someone else; if we wound others or hate others; if we show contempt for someone because he or she is from another race, culture, economic group, or educational level, then we have divorced spirituality from justice and ...
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Matt Woodley serves as the Editor for PreachingToday.com and the Pastor of Compassion Ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also the author of God With Us: The Gospel of Matthew (IVP).