What's Your MQ?
John UpChurch, Editor, Jesus.org
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. (Matthew 5:7, ESV)
You probably think of devotionals as being hands-off daily activities, challenging but not interactive. Bet you didn't know you'd be getting a test. Don't worry. The test is simple to take whether you're reading or listening. I simply want us, you and me both, to measure our MQ.
What's that? Well, when accessing brain power, people often measure IQ. That's the test you take involving trains travelling at various speeds and phrases like "Tomato is to Tennessee as lemon is to blank." The MQ, on the other hand, measures something much more important: our mercy quotient. According to Jesus during His Sermon on the Mount, we're happy or blessed when we show mercy because we get mercy right back. Our MQ will reveal how faithfully we're keeping to that standard.
Ready? Good. To show you how this works, we're going to compare ourselves to a famous biblical example. We'll add and subtract points based on how much mercy he shows. You can then apply this to your own life.
Section 1: Imagine you're on the run from someone who absolutely hates you—not because of anything you've done, but because you're going to take his place and he knows it. God told him. This guy figures he can simply kill you to thwart God's plan. He's obviously a bit crazy, but as long as he's kicking, he's still God's chosen leader of your country. One day, while you're hiding in a cave, this guy wanders in to use the bathroom and stands—unguarded—only a few feet from you. You have a sword; he's distracted. Add 10 points for not taking the opportunity to kill him. No points for slicing off a chunk of his robe to wave in his face.
Section 2: After that guy dies, you eventually become king. Add 10 points because you were genuinely sorry he died.
Section 3: In addition to your devotion to God and penchant for songwriting, you bring to the throne a collection of wives and concubines—several of them. One night, while out for a stroll, you see a woman bathing and are quite interested in what you see. You find out she's married. You don't really care. Subtract 10 points. (If you're keeping score, we're down to 10 points).
Section 4: For some strange reason, this woman you saw becomes pregnant. The problem? Her husband is out fighting a war for you. You panic, recall him from the frontlines, and try to get him to go see her. He doesn't, since he's completely devoted to you. Instead of confessing and suffering the consequences, you send him out on a suicide mission. He dies; you marry his widow. Subtract 10 more points.
The final score? That would be 0.
To be sure, the man in question, King David, did quite a few other things as well—some of them merciful, some not so much. Despite David's failings and occasional lack of mercy, however, God showed mercy to the king. And that brings us to a big question: If David wasn't always merciful and Jesus said we'll receive mercy when we're merciful, why did David get more than his fair share of mercy?
Why? Because God's not fair.
Intersecting Faith & Life: If God were fair, none of us would receive mercy. When we examine ourselves—honestly—we'll find time after time when we don't show mercy to others. We cut that guy off on our drive to work because he wasn't going as fast as we wanted; we hid the last of the creamers at the office so that we could have them and no one else; we took pleasure in finding out that our least favorite politician got booted out of office. Mercy's hard.
Thankfully, God doesn't weigh our lives on a scale or keep a point tally for us. We don't have to score ten mercy points before He shows us mercy. While we should always strive to live by the standard Jesus laid down, God shows mercy even to those who don't. After all, He sent His Son not because we had built up enough mercy points, but because we had failed miserably.
God's not fair, and we should thank Him for it. And that's an MQ you can count on.