Words of Hope: Condemning the Guiltless
I love listening to the Pray as You Go app. The other day one of the scriptures asked us to ponder the story of Jesus talking with the Pharisees. They were confronting Jesus and his disciples for plucking wheat to eat on the sabbath. One of the lines that stood out to me was, “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” Condemnation of the guiltless seems like a severe offense to me. One that I know I have done. I have judged someone without knowing their story, without having the authority to judge, and without mercy.
What a humbling statement. I have experienced seeing someone I know to be wholly innocent, good-hearted, full of love, and life condemned and accused by a person without insight, without compassion. Dad and I spoke about this together. I wanted to mount a crusade on behalf of this innocent person and pray evil down on the accuser. Dad wisely recommended I do not. He constantly encouraged me to find more grace, to find more forgiveness, to find more mercy. The Pharisees fully believed those they were judging were guilty. They did not see them as guiltless. This potential for misjudgment is troubling to me. Who am I convinced is guilty that God views as guiltless? I think sacrifice over mercy is attractive because we can measure it and use it as a comparison. Look what I have given up. Look at what I have done, especially what I haven’t done. Sacrifice is easy to brag about to others. Mercy is much more difficult. God sees both my mercy and my sacrifice and asks for my mercy to be greater.
“But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” – Matthew 16:7