So, how do I become a more merciful person?
Jesus gives us a good insight in His rebuke to the religious leaders:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" Matthew 23:23-24
Jesus' indictment of these Pharisees and scribes was their tendency to "major on the minors" and "minor on the majors". In His words they, "neglected the weightier matters" such as justice, mercy and faith. They were making rules and religion more important than relationships.
They set their standard of judgement at the level of their own "self-righteousness" and had little mercy for others who didn't measure up. I guarantee you that if you measure your worth by the unworthiness of others you will have little room for mercy.
This portion of Scripture is an example of the humor of Christ. He is shaming them through this ridiculous image of "straining gnats while swallowing a camel".
His point is they had become so focused on keeping the finer points of the law they lost touch with the spirit of the law - LOVE. They extended mercy to themselves and judged others harshly.
When Jesus calls us to mercy He is calling us to be merciless toward our own weaknesses and extend mercy to others.
Have you ever lost your faith focus?
Have you ever found yourself straining gnats?
Have you allowed yourself to get caught up in self-righteous judgments?
A good example of this idea is Jesus story of the Good Samaritan. The religious people walked past the injured man because they were focused on their "religious obligations". They didn't have time for mercy because they were on a mission.
But along came a despised half-breed Samaritan who stopped to care for the suffering Jew. After administering first-aid, he then tenderly lifted the man onto his donkey and carried him to a place where he could be cared for, promising to cover the cost of his recovery.
Why do you think the "non-religious" Samaritan showed mercy while the religious Jews neglected mercy?
Could it be he was mindful of mercy because he received so little mercy himself?
Will you search your heart and ask God to give you a heart of mercy?
When you put mercy in the company of justice and faith it elevates its status! Mercy must be something that pleases God and it needs to be important to you!