A Pastor’s Ponderings: Manifesting More Mercy in 2024

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Doug Stauffer Head Shot 2023By Pastor Doug Stauffer

Like so many other churches, we establish a new theme every year. Interestingly, our theme for 2020 was pretty predictable—“20/20 vision” (ugh, right before COVID-19 reared its ugly head). The vision that year seemed blurry at best. Last year, it was from James 4:8: “Draw nigh to God,” because God promises to “draw nigh to you.” Think about that one if you ever sense that God is distant. I incorporated that thought as a sidenote in many of my sermons throughout the year.

As our church embarks on the theme “Manifesting More Mercy in 2024,” we are reminded to live more like Christ, displaying mercy in every aspect of our lives. This journey of manifesting more mercy is about tempering justice with compassion, forgiving those who do us wrong and embodying the tenderness of heart that Christ Himself demonstrated. An impossible feat without God’s help every day!

In Matthew 5:7, Jesus declared, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” This profound statement underscores mercy’s reciprocal nature. It reminds us that showing mercy is not just an act of kindness towards others, but a pathway to receiving mercy. Words and actions tend to reflect our spirit. So, do a self-checkup. Do you nurture a spirit of complaint and judgment or mercy and understanding?

The parable of the Prodigal Son serves as a great example. A young man demands his inheritance, squanders it and returns home in shame. His father sees him and doesn’t greet him with scorn or ‘I told you so’ remarks. Instead, he welcomes his son with open arms, symbolizing God’s unconditional forgiveness and MERCY. In this story, Jesus teaches us about the heart of God—a heart ready to forgive, restore and project mercy.

Consider a similar story—that of the Good Samaritan. In him, we see a man who embodies mercy. He doesn’t walk by the injured man like others; he stops, cares for him and ensures his recovery. Here, mercy is an action—it goes beyond mere feelings or words. It is about doing what is right and kind, even when it is less convenient or costly.

Our pride and self-righteous attitude often prevent us from showing mercy toward others. Jacob reminds us of God’s mercy while recognizing his unworthiness. Jacob told God: “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant” (Genesis 32:10a). As we manifest more mercy this year, this humble acknowledgment is essential.

In our daily lives, we need to clothe ourselves with garments of a Christ-like character. They are not just for Sundays or church gatherings; they are for every interaction, conflict and challenge.

Our commitment to mercy must also extend beyond our sphere. Micah 6:8 reveals what God requires of us: “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” This direction is not a passive requirement, but an active engagement in showing mercy in our communities and outreach programs. Being merciful often means going against our natural inclinations to judge or retaliate.

Prayer plays a crucial role in cultivating mercy. Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to boldly approach God’s throne of grace, “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” When we return from God’s throneroom, our hearts will be transformed and realigned. We will truly have a heart of mercy after being in God’s presence.

As we embrace the journey of “Manifesting More Mercy in 2024,” let us recognize this not as a mere annual theme, but as a transformative call to action. Imagine the ripple effect if we commit to living out mercy in our daily interactions. This philosophy is not just about acts of kindness within our church walls; it’s about extending God’s grace into the hearts of our communities, one merciful act at a time.

Mercy, after all, is more than a concept—it’s a way of life that echoes the very nature of Christ. By adopting this Christ-like attribute, we don’t just change ourselves; we can bring about a wave of compassion and understanding in a world that deeply needs it. So, as we step into this year, let’s do so with a resolve to embody mercy to let it shape our actions, words and thoughts. Together, we can turn “Manifesting More Mercy in 2024” from a theme into a tangible, living reality, making a lasting impact in our lives and the lives of those around us.

Dr. Doug Stauffer is pastor of Faith Independent Baptist Church. He was saved July 6, 1980, in Niceville, while stationed at the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base and has now been in the ministry for over 35 years.