In his classic commentary on the Bible, Adam Clarke writes concerning mercy: “A merciful or compassionate man easily forgets injuries; pardons them without being solicited; and does not permit repeated returns of ingratitude to deter him from doing good, even to the unthankful and the unholy”. Can I ask you? Are you merciful? Do you extend mercy towards those who wrong you? I understand all about justice and principles, “...they’ve done this to me and so why should I show them kindness in return?” Dear soul, allow mercy to have its work in you, and you’ll soon be extending the hand of grace!! Hear the words of Jesus Christ, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Lk. 6:36).
When we think of the life of the Apostle Paul, many of us if we’re not careful, can have a distorted view of how things really were for this man of God. We look at the self-professed Apostles of today and by comparison, they live like superstars. From the very start, the Lord gave word to Ananias, “...Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake” (Acts 9:15-16). How would you fancy a call like that? Paul didn’t shrink away from this calling but embraced it!
This sermon is a call to embrace the cross of Jesus Christ. There are no coincidences with God. “…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
One of the most ancient strategies of war is that of ambush. As one looks a little closer at what is entailed in an ambush, two key ingredients will come up again and again — surprise and concealment! One dictionary defines ambush as “an act of hiding, waiting for others to appear, and then suddenly attacking them”. One of the hardest things to respond to is an ambush, you simply don’t see it coming!!! You’re caught left-field when your guard is down when you least suspect it, and inevitably, you’re fighting from the disadvantage of recovery. We have a common foe who is not unaccustomed to this mode of war. Satan is a dirty fighter and we must learn how to stand our ground on the day of his special assault. Play the man, stand firm in the fight, and see what God will do!
There are many things in life that a man seeks after, much by a way of desire that his soul longs for. Some seek after riches, while others seek fame; some seek after happiness, and others peace of mind; some seek after freedom and others find fulfilment in family. May I ask you, what it is that you seek after? What is that prized possession that your heart goes a longing for?
I think of a man by the name of King Solomon. If ever a man had riches, it was he, if ever a man had a reputation, he was unequalled! Yet, for all his many qualities, none were comparable to that one defining quality of wisdom that singularly set this king apart! Would you have the wisdom to know what to do in any given situation? Would you have the understanding to discern between good and evil? “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (Jms. 1:5)
Here we are again, revisiting a topic that I know each one of you are only too familiar with. You say, Preacher, isn’t there something else we can study besides this matter of love? Is there not some other treasure that you can unearth for us from Holy Writ? Brother, that’s like saying, we’ve had enough of you mining for gold, isn’t there something else you can unearth, like silver or tin, or a lump of iron or copper? Well, I can, but you do realise that these other metals whilst important are not to be compared with the precious worth of gold? As pertaining to that first commandment of importance, that “…royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Jms. 2:8), it has no equal...no rival by which to compare. It stands in a league of its own, chief among the metals!
Of all the many aspects of love, one could choose to look at, in this sermon we choose to look at the continuation of love seen in the exhortation given to the Hebrews, “Let brotherly love continue”.