What things in life do you desire? When I was in high school, I only desired wealth. I dreamt of wealth, fast cars, and fancy houses. Saying I was a selfish, prideful, arrogant kid would be a significant understatement. What can I say? I was the product of my environment. I was a public school kid whose family never attended church unless it was midnight on Christmas Eve. I do not know why we went, but I remember attending Chapel in the Pines on Christmas Eve.

As life went on, my idea of success was beaten out of me by the school of “hard knocks.” Somehow, amid my blinding arrogance, I was married and the father of three amazing kids. In 1999, life gave me one more devastating blow to my prideful self. I lost my family’s only source of income.

All these years later, I compare my heart’s desires to my former self. My heart’s desire is so very opposite of my old self. I do not care about money because it only causes pain for most people. I no longer want a fancy house; my heart longs for a peaceful home. In the heart of full disclosure, I still love fast cars. But my heart wants to be in the Lord’s will. I want the Lord’s heart in mine; I want His eyes to see things He would see. I pray every day that I can see the broken.

I get up each morning with a burning desire to help the hurting; I know this because, with all of my bravado in my former life, I was an absolute hurting mess. See, I was an ADHD kid long before it had initials. All kids with these initials share two things. 1. We are always in trouble with someone due to a lack of social awareness. Do you understand what it is like to ALWAYS be in trouble with someone? It is painful. 2. The wounds from ADHD are cumulative and start to take a toll on a person. The pain was unbearable, and what do hurt people do? They hurt people, which is why they are so hard to reach.

During sermon prep over the last two weeks, a verse has stood out to me profoundly. Matt 9:13 says, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matt 12:7 states again, ” And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.”

At first glance, my heart leaps at the thought of all the mercy Jesus has poured over me. It is one of the warmest, loving, genuine things I have ever experienced. But I look at these verses more deeply, and this is not about me getting more mercy. It is about me giving mercy. Giving mercy is far more challenging than receiving mercy. Giving mercy requires me to forgive people who hurt me. Giving mercy forces me to eat a sandwich made from my own pride.

As we unpack another parable this week, I would like to know if verse 7 in Matthew 12 will stand out and challenge you in the same it has challenged me. God has given me a few opportunities to offer mercy this week. Every chance of mercy-giving I was presented with has ended with something beautiful occurring. Now, I can see the fullness of these red-letter words and the incredible opportunity to do what the Word instructs us.

I hope each of you has an opportunity to slay your pride and give away mercy. See you Sunday at 9:30 AM for Communion Sunday and our potluck after church.

In Him,
Pastor Chris