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Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment

• Greg Boyd
Guest Panelists: David Morrow, Shawna Boren

In the midst of a culture of perpetual judgment, God has called the church to be a people of mercy. We will receive mercy to the degree that we offer mercy, and judgment to the degree that we judge.

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We live in a divisive time, where people with competing narratives are constantly attacking one another. These divisions often result in hopelessness as each side views the other as the enemy. Shared trust is largely eroded. This pushes people into a quarantined experience where they only connect with people who think the same way, thereby reinforcing an “us vs. them” mindset.

This quarantined experience is driven by confirmation bias where the pleasure centers are activated when we agree with another while the amygdala is triggered when we disagree. The correctness of your views and the righteousness of the causes you stand for becomes perfectly obvious to you and, you assume, to all reasonable people. Everyone is feeding off of the need to be right and to label all others as wrong.

The question we face as the church is if we can model a third way, not withholding our perspective, but offering a new way of interacting with others about difficult matters. In a world full of judgment, can we be a people of mercy?

Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful.” Mercy basically means pardon of a guilty verdict, as one receives kindness instead of the deserved judgment. God by his grace has mercy on us: he frees us from the self-destructive consequences of sin. In addition, there is also a broader meaning to mercy. It occurs when we show unexpected kindness to someone or something that is outside the bounds of the accepted norm.

The opposite of mercy is judgment. To judge is to conclude that another person should get what they deserve. Judgments reduce people down to a label. To address a person as an individual requires time because it calls for us to love. To judge means that we treat people as an object that either brings us pleasure or anger.

Jesus says, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3). The judgment you give is the judgment you’re going to eventually get. Throughout the Bible you find that the punishment for sin is built into the sin itself. Sin is inherently self-destructive, which is why God went to such great lengths to save us from it. This applies to our judgment of others. The way we judge others will ricochet back upon us.

We cannot love and judge at the same time. Love is about valuing others at cost to self, no matter their merits. This is the kind of love that God offered to us on the cross. Judgment is loving ourselves at cost to others. This a form of idolatry. Judgment begets further judgment and left unchecked, judgments sooner or later get expressed as violence. To combat this, we must adopt the mindset of Paul when he wrote, “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost.” (I Timothy 1:15). When we see how we have received mercy, we can extend that to others.

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Topics: Blessings, Peace, Relationships

Sermon Series: Sermon on the Mount, Unexpected

Downloads & Resources

Audio File
Study guide
Group Study Guide
The MuseCast : September 1

Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 5:7

    Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

  • James 2:13

    For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

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13 thoughts on “Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment

  1. Kathy Dunn says:

    A well needed, and timely messages; thanks Greg. All creation is in need of the church choosing the third way.

  2. Dawn says:

    For some reason this file won’t play on my IPad, and it just crashed my PC. Anyone else have that problem?

    1. Lyn says:

      Me too. It says ” this video is unavailable on this device”.

      1. Lyn says:

        Same message on laptop and TV, on facebook, WH website and you tube.

        1. Sarah Cassin says:

          Hello Dawn and Lyn (and anyone else who may notice the YouTube video is not working!) —

          I just wanted to let you know that we’re working on solving the issue. In the meantime, the video file for every sermon is always available for you to view and/or download right to your device. You can find it under “Downloads & Resources” Here’s the link for this weekend’s video: http://media.whchurch.org/2020/2020-08-30_Boyd_Mercy-Triumphs-Over-Judgment.mp4

          -Sarah from the Communications team

          1. Lyn says:

            Thanks, Sarah. I hope it all gets worked out so we can see the whole service.

  3. Matthew says:

    What does Christian judgement look like — both now and when Jesus returns? Is it always supposed to be merciful? Will it always be merciful?

    1. Paige Slighter says:

      Hey Matthew,
      You might find listening to this sermon helpful:

      Some take aways:
      From Greg’s message, it appears we are unable to love and judge at the same time. Judgment results in separation from one another not a bridge to reconciliation. It’s important for us to separate good from evil, but also remembering that we are not the judge, God is. True judgment requires perfect character and wisdom, which we as humans do not have.

      1. Matthew says:

        Thanks so much Paige. Could you please point me to another resource as well?
        I find myself now saying I believe in the inerrant Word of God and his name is Jesus Christ, which immediately leads my inerrancy brothers and sister to ask:
        How can you know Jesus is the Word of God without the word of God that is the Bible? Has Greg or anyone on staff dealt with this issue? If so, a link would be appreciated.

        1. Paige Slighter says:

          Hey Matthew,
          You might find this resource helpful: http://whchurch.org/sermon_series/questioning-the-bible/
          – Paige from the Communications Team

          1. Matthew says:

            Thanks so much Paige. I just watched the video. It was very helpful.

          2. Paige Slighter says:

            Great! Glad you found it resourceful!

  4. Ray says:

    What a life changer this has been for me lately to have one ‘thought’ and ‘opinion’ about others to love and know, “EVERYONE has unsurpassable worth.” To pray blessings… instead of my ugly judging!

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