Sometimes it’s hard for mercy to walk with truth.
DECEMBER 4, 2023
Sometimes it’s hard for mercy to walk with truth. I’ll explain on this edition, of Key Life.
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Thank you Matthew. I hope you guys had a great week-end, and I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. You know, places where I go, you would be surprised how often somebody, and they did it just last week someplace where I was. A man came up to me and said, Hi Steve, my pastor’s sermon was better than your pastor’s sermon. So, I’m starting a movement, all across America of affirming your pastor. If you’re just joining us, by the way, we’re studying the Book of Proverbs. I can’t even review where we’ve been because this is not a normal study of a line upon line, verse upon verse, theme upon theme, precept upon precept. It doesn’t work that way. It works that way in most books of the Bible, but Proverbs is kind of like teaching the dictionary. I mean, there are just all kinds of subjects all over the place. And so, what I’m doing is looking at some of the main subjects in Proverbs and spending some time showing you what the book of Proverbs says about it. We’ve talked about women and that was controversial. Boy, I’m not going there again anytime soon, but the Book of Proverbs is very clear about the danger of women. Now, the writer of Proverbs is talking to his court guys, the guys who are young and he’s warning them. But then in the Book of Proverbs, some of the most exciting and wonderful and profound things are said about women. So, it kind of balances out. You can be angry if you’re a lady on one point. And stand up and call the writer of Proverbs blessed on the next point. But at any rate, that’s how we’re teaching it, and we’re going to be looking at subjects again today and over the next few weeks. Before we do that it’s our practice to pray. Let’s do that. Father, we come into your presence and we’re so thankful for your word, the way you wrote it down, the way you’ve been clear, the way you made sure we got it right. If you had whispered in our ear, we would have forgotten. If you had told us verbally, we would have passed it on, it would have gotten mixed up. But you wrote it down, so it’s there for us to see, and to study, and to grow. And we praise you for that. You know everyone who’s listening to this broadcast, and you know the hard places and the soft places. Remind us that you’re the God of the hard and the soft. And then Father, as always, we pray for the one who teaches on this broadcast, that you would forgive him his sins, because they are many. We would see Jesus and him only. And we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. Alright, if you have a Bible and you’re in a place where you can open it, I’ll be calling out different texts as they reference different subjects in the Book of Proverbs. Now, if you’re a Presbyterian, you better just set the Bible aside and trust me when I read it. But if you’re a Baptist and you grew up with those sword drills, I mean, Baptists, they get through the Bible really fast because they practice so often. In fact, they don’t put air conditioning in Baptist churches, they have sword drills. And then you have a thousand fans going, you don’t have to pay for air conditioning. But I’m going to be calling out the text as we look at the different subjects and those texts are sometimes all over the place. Let me show you what Proverbs says about mercy and truth. They don’t work easily together, but it’s important that they do. Proverbs 3:3 through 4 is a good example of that.
Let not mercy and truth forsake you. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.
That’s a true statement, but it’s not as easy as the writer of Proverbs seems to apply in this particular place. As I record this, yesterday, as a matter of fact, did a part of our talk show, and we interviewed Rosaria Butterfield. Now, that’s already passed because these programs are recorded a month or two in advance, just to let you know. But Rosaria Butterfield is one of my favorite people. If you’re not familiar with her, she was a lesbian activist. She has a Ph. D. from the University of Ohio. She taught women’s studies at Syracuse University. She’s as articulate and bright as anybody you would ever want to meet. And her career was soaring until she met Jesus, and he messed it up. Well, actually, he didn’t mess it up, but boy, did he change her life. And now, and it’s hard to believe when you look at her past. She is a delight, but she’s married to a pastor. She’s one of the strongest, most articulate Christians I’ve ever met. And because she’s been there, and because she’s done that, she is in your face about some of the things our culture is facing. Her first book was a book which was basically biographical. And what had happened to her when Jesus happened to her. But the most recent book is a book about lies that we have been told by our culture. And it’s a book not written for unbelievers, but it’s written for the church. It’s written for believers. One of the things she said is that most believers don’t know how to speak truth and mix it with love when we’re talking to unbelievers about controversial topics. She and her friend sometimes go to school board meetings. You know, there’s some bad stuff happening in public education. And she and her friend decided they’re going to confront the school board. And I said to her, they must hate you. And she said, no, they love me. I said, you’re kidding. She said, no, they don’t like what we’re saying, but they often come to my house for dinner. And what’s with that? And she said, you know what Christians need to learn? They need to learn how to mix truth with mercy. That’s not very easy. You know, if you do the truth, and it’s offensive, and it goes against the personal narrative of your friends, and the community narrative that has been fostered, a bunch of lies on Christians, to the point where we’ve even been intimidated into silence, or we have bought into that stupid narrative, which is sinful and evil and from the pit of hell and smells like smoke. And if we decide we’re going to say anything about it, we offend everybody. And it’s almost wasted making a witness on it. But the Book of Proverbs says something very important, it says.
Bind mercy and truth around your neck.
How do you do that? And then sometimes in the mercy part, we forget about the truth part. And we become wusses. We become Christian Santa Clauses. We become people who tell others we can disagree, and I get where you’re coming from. You do your thing and I’ll do my thing, and Christians can’t do that either. So, it’s not so easy to put mercy and grace together. Now, I don’t have the time to tell you the story, and I’ll tell you tomorrow about my encounter with the editor of a gay, lesbian newspaper in Miami. But I have learned, and am learning, and sometimes still mess it up, that you’ve got to lead with what? Your own need for mercy. That’s our witness in the world. We’re not telling bad people how they can be good like us. We’re not called to have a list of truths that we beat others over the head with. We’re not called to be judges of other people. We’re called, and here it comes, to love other people. Why should we do that? Because we’ve been loved. To forgive other people. Why is that? Because we have been forgiven. To accept other people. And why is that? Because we have been accepted. It’s called putting around your neck mercy and truth, and they do go together if you do it right. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. That was Steve Brown continuing our tour through Proverbs. Like he said, not the way we usually move through a book, but I like it. Hope you’re enjoying it too. And we will continue from here tomorrow. Do hope you’ll join us. Christmas is now three weeks away. So, I’d like to talk to you about the hymn It Is Well With My Soul. Wait, what? How does that song relate to Christmas? Well, Christmas, the Incarnation of God in Christ, means that your soul, the real you, is secure in Jesus, treasured, shepherded, and preserved. Steve spoke about this in a powerful sermon, and if you’re going through it right now, or maybe you know someone who is, I think it’s going to bless you. So, call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. And we’ll send you that sermon CD for free. You can also e-mail [email protected] if you’d like to mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Just ask for your free copy of the CD called It Is Well With My Soul. And finally, if you value the work of Key Life, would you support that work through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card, or include a gift in your envelope. Or pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Text that to 28950. And listen, if you can’t give, we get it. But if you think about it, please do pray for us, would you? Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.