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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Rick Warren » Rick Warren - A Faith That Makes Me More Merciful and Less Judgmental

Rick Warren - A Faith That Makes Me More Merciful and Less Judgmental

Rick Warren - A Faith That Makes Me More Merciful and Less Judgmental
TOPICS: Faith, Mercy, Judgment, A Faith That Works When Life Doesn’t

Hi everybody. I'm Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church, Author of the Purpose Driven Life and speaker at the Daily Hope Broadcast. Welcome back to our special series on principles for living through a pandemic. Now, today is our 17th study in the book of James that I'm calling a faith that works when life doesn't. And I'm calling this particular message, a faith that makes me more merciful and less judgmental, a faith that makes me more merciful and less judgmental. But before we dive in, let me give you some practical ways to get the most out of these online messages while we're unable to meet due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Let me give you some suggestions. Number one, find a comfortable chair, okay? Just sit down. Don't stand. Find a comfortable chair. Number two, print up the outline. We send it to you every week and an email. If you're not getting it, give us your email. We'll send it to you. Number three, turn your phone off. Turn your phone off. And number four, don't multitask. You'll get a whole lot more out of God's Word if you'll do those four things. Now, while back, there was a Christian organization that took a national survey of people who aren't believers. And one of the questions was that they asked was what word best describes your impression of the Christians you know? And the answer was not, unfortunately they're loving, or they're kind, or they're humble or they're generous, or they have integrity. The number one answer that people gave when they were asked, what one word describes Christians you know? They said, the Christians I know are judgmental, are judgmental.

Now that means we're not doing a very good job of representing Jesus in our world today because that's the exact opposite of what Jesus said he came to do. Now, every Christian knows the most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life". But sadly, most Christians pay no attention to the very next verse right after it, John 3:17, which says this, "I did not come into this world to judge the world. I came to save it". "I didn't come to judge the world, but to save it".

If you're serious about becoming like Jesus, then your life mission must be the same as His, and Jesus didn't save you to become a judge of people, but to save people by pointing them to Jesus, the savior. That's why today in our 17th message through this book of James, we're gonna focus on the implication of just one phrase of one verse in the book of James that verse is James 2:13, here's what it says, "You must show mercy to others, or God won't show mercy to you when He judges you one day. But the person who shows mercy will stand without fear at the judgment on judgment day". And then here's the phrase that I want us to focus on, mercy triumphs over judgment. What I want us to focus on is this last phrase, mercy triumphs over judgment. What does that mean? What does it mean for your life in the middle of a global pandemic?

Well, first let's start with a simple definition of mercy. What's mercy? Well in a simplified form, mercy is love in action. Mercy is not a feeling, that's far more than a feeling. You do something with mercy. You show mercy. Mercy is love in action, but this verse and others say that mercy is also the opposite of judging and judgment. Mercy is the opposite of judging and judgment. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Mercy is different than judgment. And when I'm judging other people, I am not being merciful. Now God says that mercy is more powerful than judgment. It triumphs over judgment. It beats being judged. It prevails, it wins. It carries the day over judgment. We should be grateful for that because if we all got what we deserved, none of us would be alive. Everything in your life and in my life is due to God's mercy. Everything that we have, the air, the water, life itself.

And today what I wanna do as we look at this theme, mercy triumphs over judgment is asked two questions. Number one, why does God expect me to show mercy to everybody, everybody? And number two, how does God expect me to show mercy to everybody? Let's look at these two. What does the Bible say first? Why does God expect me to show mercy to everyone? Let me give you just four reasons from God's Word. Number one, because God continually shows me mercy. As I said, every breath you take is because of God's mercy. Every beat of your heart is an example of God's mercy. Every new day you wake up is because of God's mercy. God is a merciful God. It is emphasized all through scripture.

Now look at this verse, Ephesians 2:4-5, "God is so rich in mercy, and He loves us so very much that when we were spiritually dead and doomed because of our sins, He gave us a new life in Christ". Now notice it says in that verse, we were spiritually dead and doomed. When you're dead, there's nothing you can do about it. You don't have any power to change your life. No self help book will help you when you're dead, you're just stuck. And when you're doomed, it's hopeless. You need a savior. You see it as God's mercy that keeps you and me alive. It's God's mercy that saves us. It's God's mercy that keeps us out of hell. It's God's mercy that saves us from a lot of trouble that we caused by our own problems. Now God expects you to pass on His undeserved mercy to others. You don't deserve it and nobody else does either, but He says, I want you to pass it on. Matthew 18:33, "Shouldn't you have mercy on others just as I had mercy on you"? So the first reason were to show mercy to everybody is because God shows us mercy.

Number two, where to show mercy to everyone. Because number two, God wants me to become like Him. Yeah, God's a merciful God, He wants you to be like Him. Like father like daughter, like father like son. Hosea 6:6 God says, "I don't want your sacrifices. I want you to be merciful". Now this verse, I don't want your sacrifices. I want you to be merciful. This old Testament verse is so important. Jesus quotes it twice in the gospel, twice. This may shock you, but God says, showing mercy is more important than worship. Says I don't want you to sacrifice if you're not showing mercy to other people. This has enormous implications. For you and me right now, while we can't meet together for worship during COVID-19, God says, "Okay, you can't worship together right now, but you can show mercy to people during this pandemic".

All other churches around the world have been worrying about how to get the community back into the church during COVID-19. Saddleback took the exact opposite strategy. And we've been using, taking the church into the community. One of the ways by providing free food for tens of thousands of out of work families. This week Saddleback Church was ranked the number one food provider in Southern California. That's because of your financial gifts. And that's because of your volunteering. We are showing mercy when we can't worship together, He says, "That's okay, I'll get that, you're worshiping me when you show mercy to people who need it". That's no big secret what God wants you to do.

Look at this verse, Micah 6:8, it's very clear. He's not hiding it from us. "God has clearly shown you what is good," okay? As you're wondering, what's good. "God has clearly shown you what's good and how he expects you to live". And then he says three things. You must treat everyone justly, love mercy and walk humbly before God. Note the three things God expects you to do in life. So I complicated. Number one, treat everyone justly, Liberty and justice for all, love mercy. That's what James is talking about in this verse. Mercy triumphs over judgment and walk humbly before God, which by the way, is the root of the other two things. If I treat people unjustly or I'm in judgment, I'm judgemental instead of merciful, it just shows my pride and my ego and my arrogance. I'm not being humble. So we are to walk justly, do justice with people. We're to love mercy and we're to walk humbly before God.

Now there's a third important reason that God expects me to show mercy to everybody. Not just people I want to show it to, but to everybody. And it's this because I need mercy to get into heaven. Yeah, you need mercy to get into heaven. Matthew 6:15. Jesus says this, "If you refuse to forgive others, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins". Whoa. You cannot receive what you're unwilling to give yourself. See, the only way we can get into a perfect heaven is by God's mercy. By His forgiveness, by His grace, you cannot afford to burn the bridge that you have to walk across in order to get into heaven. And He says, if you won't show mercy, why would you expect me to show mercy to you?

One day somebody came to the famous Pastor, John Wesley, and he said, "I could never forgive that person". And he mentioned somebody, and Wesley said, "Then I hope you never sin". If you can forgive him, I hope you never sin because you're burning the bridge that you have to walk across in order to get into heaven. Look at that verse again at the top of your outline, James chapter 2:13, let's read it again. "You must show mercy to others, or God won't show mercy to you when He judges you one day. But the person who shows mercy will stand without fear," He's talking about on the judgment, "because mercy triumphs over judgment". Now He says, that's the negative way to say it. On the other hand, Jesus says it positively in the beatitudes in Matthew 5:7 He says this, "God blesses those who are merciful for they will be shown mercy". So God is a merciful God, okay? God is a merciful God, I'm gonna need mercy to get into heaven.

There's a fourth reason, God wants you to be merciful to everybody, and here it is, because being merciful, listen is a remedy for depression. And a lot of people are depressed right now. They're discouraged. They're depressed. They're down because of this COVID-19. When you stop focusing on your own pain and your own problems and your own difficulties, and you start caring about other people, and you start showing mercy to other people, you know what it does? It lifts your spirit. It increases your energy. It produces happiness. That beatitude. You know the word America also blessed literally means happy. Matthew 5:7, Jesus says, "Happy are the merciful". You wanna be happy be merciful. Happy are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.

Now, who do you think right now in this pandemic, for instance is happier right now? All those thousands of volunteers at Saddleback, over 12,000 of them, who've been distributing food and supplies to people, less fortunate. Do you think they're the most happy? Do you think the people who are sitting at home griping about inconvenient and how tough this pandemic is? Those who are giving their lives away I guarantee you happier than those who are focused only on themselves. Those who are merciful blessed are the merciful, happy are the merciful.

By the way, let me give you the most recent numbers for our grocery distribution as of July 20th. The number of grocery distribution places we have done 327 different popup distribution centers, 327 across Southern California. The number of families served 63,579 families out of work have been served by Saddleback Church. The number of volunteers that have served now over 14,505 of you have volunteered. You're showing mercy. And as a result, the number of decisions for Jesus Christ, people who have given their life to the Lord through the food pantries and the popups 8,349 people. All of that while COVID has shut down our worship service, the number of pounds served 2.8 million pounds of food served by Saddleback.

In fact, this last week, Saddleback was named the number one food distributor in Southern California. They evidently there's some group that ranks it and they said, we are the number one ranking distributor of food. What are we doing? We're showing mercy rather than sitting in home and griping and complaining and feeling sorry for ourselves and having a pity party. You see God set up the universe with universal principles. And one of those principles is this, the more you help other people, the more you will succeed and the happier you will be. Happiness doesn't come from living for yourself. It comes from giving your life away and being merciful. Proverbs 11:17, "A merciful person helps himself". Did you get that? Look at that verse, "A merciful person helps himself, but a cruel person hurts himself". That's the principle of the universe that you get what you sow in line. The Living Bible Translation of this verse says your own soul is nourished when you're kind, when you're merciful.

Now of course the greatest example in the Bible is a story of Job where he lost literally everything. He lost his health. He lost his family. He lost his job. He lost his wealth, everything his friends came out and you know what they did? They judged him. They didn't show mercy. They criticized him. The second guessed and they kept telling him what he'd done was wrong. They kept saying, it's your own fault. And the Bible says that the great turnaround in Job's life occurred not when he thought about himself, but when he actually prayed for the people who were criticizing him, do you do that? Job 42:10, "After Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored job's wealth and happiness, giving him twice as much as before". And in other words, before the crisis that he was in.

What I'm trying to point out to you in this message. Here's the big idea. You have a choice. You can go through life as a judgmental person, or you can go through life as a merciful person. You can choose to criticize, and you can choose to point out flaws, and you can choose to condemn and judge everybody who doesn't hold measure up to your standards, which you don't either, and you're gonna make yourself and everybody else around you miserable. You make yourself miserable, or you can do the opposite. You can be an agent of judgment in the world, or you can be an agent of mercy in the world. And if you do that, life will be a whole lot more enjoyable for you, and by the way, for everybody you live with, and everybody else around you, it's your choice. So you say, Rick, how do I get started in being an agent of mercy? How to kind of become God's agent of mercy instead of an agent of judgmentalism in the world.

Well, you start by getting into this book, the Bible, and realizing when you read this book, and you really study it, you realize how much mercy matters so much more to God than judgment. God doesn't wanna judge. He does it. He'd rather be merciful. Being judgmental of others means you really don't know the Bible, as well as you think you do. You see in Matthew 12:7, Jesus says this. He tells it to the Pharisees. He says, "You would not have judged these men if you really knew the scripture that says, 'I want you to be merciful.'" Again, you got a choice, be judgmental, be merciful, be an agent of mercy, being an agent of justice. Now we've looked at four reasons. God wants you to show mercy to everybody. So with that we have to ask the question, how? How do I do it? How does God expect me to show mercy to everybody? Well, mercy is like a diamond it's multifaceted, but in our time together, and just this brief time, let me give you four practical ways to be God's agent of mercy in the world. They're pretty simple. They're not hard to understand, but they're often difficult to do.

Number one, forgive people when they mess up. Forgive people when they mess up. That's an agent of mercy. 2 Corinthians 2:7 says this, "When people sin, you should forgive and comfort them so they won't give up in despair". That's CEV version. So they won't give up in despair. Forgive the fallen, especially when they've hurt you. You see the normal reaction is when somebody hurts you either wanna get even, or you want to write them off. But an agent of mercy forgives the fallen. When you pray the Lord's prayer that Jesus told us to pray. One of the phrases in the Lord's Prayer is this Luke 11:4, "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us".

Do you really wanna pray that verse? When you pray the Lord's Prayer, you're saying, God, I want you to forgive me as much as I forgive everybody who's hurt me. Do you want to actually pray that prayer? Lord, I want you to forgive me as much as I forgive everybody else who's hurt me. The Bible says in Proverbs 28:13, whoever refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes him, he gets another chance. Who do you need to give another chance to? Who do you need to give a second chance to? That's being an agent of mercy. Saddleback, we want to be known as the church of mercy. That's why the S in our name stands for second chance place of grace as a place start over. This is for people who don't have it all together for people who've messed up. We forgive the fallen. We show mercy to people who've messed up.

Number two second way. God wants you to show mercy to everybody is this. And this gets a little bit deeper here. Be patient with people's quirks. Be patient with people's quirks. I mean, everybody has their peculiarities, okay? We all have our mannerisms. We have our idiosyncrasies. We have our odd behaviors. We have our irritating habits. You say, yeah, even you, you got them. When you control your anger and you refuse to get upset over somebody who does something irritating, don't look at them right now if they're in your family, but when you refuse to control your anger and you don't get upset, you are showing mercy. Maybe right now during COVID-19 and everybody's stuck at home, the most important marriage advice I could give you is this next verse, Ephesians 4:2. Here's what it says, "Be patient with each other, making allowances for each other," Are you doing that? "making allowances for each other's faults because of your love".

You know the first place you need to show mercy at home. So many marriages are buried by a lot of little digs, okay? 'Cause we're not showing mercy. Romans 15:7, "Accept one another, just as Christ has accepted you". He's accepted you with all your quirks and idiosyncrasies and faults and weaknesses. He says, this brings glory to God. You wanna bring glory to God, start accepting your spouse instead of criticizing them all the time. Instead of complaining all the time. Instead of picking at them all the time, learn to accept them in their peculiarities, in their weaknesses. Everybody's got them. That's being an agent of mercy in your marriage, and with your kids, everybody's got their fault, except them as Christ has accepted you. This brings glory to God. You bring glory to God every time you don't bring up something that bugs you at home, you bring glory to God.

James 2:13, in the Phillips Translation says this, "The man who makes no allowances for others will find none made for him". You're gonna reap what you sow in life, okay? Let me give you a third way to be an agent of mercy. Show respect to people you disagree with. That's showing mercy, yeah. Now we certainly need this one today in a polarized and divided world. There are a lot of dumb ideas out there, but it does and you can treat them with disrespect. You are to be respectful. You don't have to agree with everything. You can disagree with people without being disagreeable. 1 Peter 2:17, about as clear as you can get, God says, "Treat everyone you meet with dignity".

Oh my goodness, everybody? Yeah. People I disagree with? Yeah. People that I don't like. Yeah, treat everyone you meet with dignity. We're getting ready to go into the fall where there's gonna be in America an election. That means it's going to get mean-spirited. There's going to be attack ads. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Ephesians 4:30-32 says this, it's very clear. "Don't get bitter or angry or use harsh words that hurt each other". Notice bitter, angry, harsh words, hurt. Don't yell at one another or curse or ever be rude instead be kind and merciful. That's an agent of mercy. Notice that God contrasts mercy with six negative responses. Go look at that list again. How would you rate yourself on mercy? Are you rude? Do you yell? Do you curse all those things, different things.

You see today, Christians for instance are being attacked like never before in a lot of countries, and many groups are pushing anti-Christian agendas. And because we represent their barrier by being loyal to God, they attack us. What's our response? Show mercy, show mercy. You have to ask yourself, do you wanna win the argument or do you wanna win them to Christ? You must show mercy. If you're not showing mercy, then you're not following Christ. Jesus gets real radical about this. He goes way, way beyond tolerance. In Luke chapter 6:35 and 36 Jesus says this, "Love your enemies". Oh, come on. Love your enemies. And then he says, do good to them. What is good there? That's mercy. Mercy is love in action. Love your enemies, do good to them. When's the last time you did something good for an enemy. When's the last time you did something good for somebody who totally disagree with politically, culturally, relationally, religiously, whatever. Do good to them, lend them without expecting anything back.

When's the last time you lent him some money to an enemy. He said, "Then your reward will be great". God is gonna reward you. When He sees you acting as an agent of mercy in the world, your reward will be great. And having some of you, aren't gonna have any reward in heaven 'cause you haven't been merciful. He says, "Your reward will be great in heaven and you'll be the children of the most high". That's a great compliment because God is kind, He's merciful to the ungrateful and to the wicked. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful. So what I'm saying, mercy has given people what they need, not what they deserve. If we all got what we deserved, we wouldn't be here. And when you see people are hurting others realize that hurt people hurt people. Who's hurt you the most? Who's hurt you the most recently? Show him mercy, show him mercy.

There's a famous story about President Abraham Lincoln's mercy. After the Southern States were defeated by the Northern States in the Civil War, 150 years ago, President Lincoln spoke to a very large crowd from a balcony of the White House. And at the end of his speech, this is after the Civil War and the North had won ending new slavery. At the end of his speech, James Harlan, who was a Senator of Iowa shouted out to President Lincoln, "What should we do with the rebels? Those who had fought for the Confederacy". And the unmerciful crowd shouted back, "Hang them, hang them, hang them, hang them". Lincoln's youngest son was named Ted. He was 11 years old. He's standing by his dad. And he turned to his father. He says, "No, no Papa not hang them. Hang on to them, hang on to them". And Lincoln grinned at his young son, Ted and said, "You're exactly right, son". Ted had the solution. He had the solution for all of the bitterness and betrayal and violence in America and everywhere else, we must hang on to them, not hang them. Show mercy.

Finally, number four, help, help anybody who's hurting. Anytime you help anybody's hurting, you are an agent of mercy and mercy is triumphing over judgment. You're not being judgmental, you're being merciful. You know, Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan to teach real mercy. You help somebody when they need it. Proverbs 3:27, "Wherever, or when ever you possibly can do good to those who need it". How do you do to good, wherever you possibly can. You got to look for it. You got to look for opportunities to be merciful this week. If you care, you'll be aware. I call this premeditated mercy. It's intentional. I want you as a Saddleback person and anybody who's watching this today or listening to it on Daily Hope. I want you to practice premeditated mercy this week. I dare you to do something incredibly risky this week. Commit an act of premeditated mercy.

So how can you do that? I've been thinking a lot about this. I talked to the staff about it and you're gonna hear more about it. We're gonna do a survey on Monday, but I've been thinking that the first half of this COVID-19 pandemic, our big win was when we started helping people who needed food. And that, as you heard, all those statistics earlier is an amazing success. And we've had so many thousands of people come to Christ because we moved into an area and showed mercy to people who needed food. But what about now? What I'm most concerned about right now? We just heard this week that the schools aren't gonna open in the fall. I care about the teachers and I care about the parents. And I care about the kids. Kids are bored right now at home. Parents are frustrated and I could go into this in detail. I'll write you about it. But the bottom line is Saddleback is gonna figure out ways, just like we did with food on how to support our parents, emotionally, spiritually, financially, and how to support our kids.

The K in Saddleback is kid and family friendly, and how to support teachers. Yeah, we're gonna talk about this in detail in the days ahead, expect the letter from me this week on this very issue. That's where we're going next. We're gonna show mercy and help parents who are frustrated, trying to cover their own job. Single parents who are trying to do it all by themselves. Others who are having to work in the home and with the kids at home and all these other things. Now, of course, there's always a tension between mercy and responsibility. Do you know what I have decided that if I'm gonna air in life, I'm gonna come down on the side of being too gracious, too merciful and too forgiving. I'd much rather be on that side because that's the way God has been with me. You say, well, Rick, can't you go overboard on mercy? Absolutely, I think Jesus did. On the cross Jesus went overboard with mercy.

Now, maybe you've never accepted God's mercy for you. If not, you don't even have the power in you to be merciful. Titus 3:5 says this, "Jesus saved us not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy, he washed away our sins and he gave us a new life". If you have never received the free gift of God's salvation, where all your sins are washed away, all your past is forgiven, you receive the mercy and grace, God, I wanna do it right now, okay? Let's bow our heads. Follow me in this prayer. Say:

Dear God, I need your mercy in my life. (Say that:) Dear God, I need your mercy in my life. Jesus Christ thank you for showing me mercy. Thank you for giving me what I need not what I deserve. What I need is your forgiveness. What I need is your love. What I need is your power. And today, as much as I know how I'm opening my life to you, I wanna learn to trust you and follow you for the rest of my life and in your mercy, accept me into your heaven one day. Please be my savior and show me mercy. Amen.

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