How to show mercy toward ourselves and others

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Judgmentalism can really suffocate the flourishing of our souls, because we don’t feel ourselves to be worthy of love or respect or dignity, or we deny others their essential worth as well. It’s like barbed wire that can hem us in and keep others out.

Like barbed wire, judgmentalism can cut both ways. Often the ways we harshly condemn others is connected in some way to the ways we fear judgment ourselves; and the condemnation we turn against ourselves is often tied to judgments we have received from others. Some of us are more likely to be judgmental toward ourselves and less toward others; some of us more likely to turn judgment against others and try to avoid it ourselves. But it’s always a form of barbed wire the hems the soul.

What the Gospel does is expose this barbed wire, and then cut it down, for the sake of mercy.

Especially here at the United Church of Christ, as an Open & Affirming church, we get to be a kind of field hospital for those of us who are casualties of hyper-judgy, guilt-ridden religion. We can be a house of healing where our medicine is Mercy, and our rehab program is the exercise of Mercy.

This is the wisdom of Jesus who said, “Judge not lest you be judged. The measure you apply to others is the measure to be applied to you.” And the Apostle Paul who wrote, “In the ways you judge others you condemn yourselves” (Romans 2:1). And Letter of James that says, “The one who has shown no mercy will be judged without mercy.” (James 2:13).

But in the next breath James says: “Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

This is good news.

Mercy triumphs over judgment. Christ came to set us free. The truth can set us free.

Have you felt that Mercy? Have you known that Mercy?

Can you imagine something of that Mercy?

Read Rev. Nathaniel Mahlberg’s full sermon from Sunday, March 10, 2024, here.