To Love Mercy

Matthew 6 & 7, Isaiah 58
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 12 To Love Mercy

(Matthew 6 & 7, Isaiah 58)


Copr. 2019, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 Biblica, Inc. (TM), unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.


Introduction: Being a parent is sometimes wonderful, sometimes terrible, and always educational! In our quest to determine how we should relate to the “least of these,” we have discussed conflicting points of view. How can you know what is the right view, the view God endorses? This week we find one simple guide - what have you learned as a parent? What have you learned as a child? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!


  1. Healthy Eyes


    1. Read Matthew 6:22-23. Is this medical advice? Is this spiritual advice? What kind of advice is it?


    1. Read Matthew 6:24. Why is Jesus talking about money right after He speaks about vision? (This section of Jesus’ talk is about our attitude toward money. Jesus seems to say that if we have the correct view of money our body will be “full of light.” If we have the wrong view, it will be “full of darkness.”)


    1. Read Matthew 6:25-26. Is this counsel about money? (Yes! Jesus tells us not to be anxious about it.)


    1. Read Matthew 6:27. Do you worry about money? (Jesus teaches us that worry does not do any good.)


      1. Does that mean we should do nothing to prepare for the future?


      1. When Jesus previously spoke about serving two masters, did that have something to do with being anxious about money? (Some believe that you cannot serve God and at the same time have a lot of money. I don’t think that is the point Jesus is making. He is talking about the focus of your life. You can be focused on money at any income level. That is why Jesus tells us not to be anxious about money.)


    1. Read Matthew 6:28-30. What causes our anxiety about money and possessions? (A lack of faith.)


    1. Read Matthew 6:31-33. What does God tell us is the solution to worrying about money? (Seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.)


      1. If we seek God’s kingdom first, what will happen? (Verse 32 says that God knows we need the things that the “pagans run after.” Verse 33 says that “all these things will be given to you as well.” Taken literally, Jesus teaches that God will give us all the things the Gentiles pursue - and we don’t have to worry about it.)


      1. What does this say about the “least of these?” Are they not putting the Kingdom of God and righteousness first? (Remember that the warning is to any income level.)


    1. Read Matthew 6:34. Consider two situations. I have a friend who grew up in one of the worst sections of New York City. She was very poor, the apartment where she lived had trash in the lower floor, and trash in the empty lot next door. Rats lived in the trash. She now lives in a 7,000+ square foot home on the side of a hill overlooking a golf course. She reports that she had a happy childhood, and at the time she did not think she was poor! My parents were not poor, but growing up it seemed to me there was a lot of anxiety over money - much of it having to do with paying for me to attend church school! Is the idea of the “least of these,” more a matter of attitude? Is trust in God the main answer? (If you are starving, or need medical attention, or don’t have proper clothing, these are obviously not issues about attitude. In the Western world, it seems much of the “least of these,” is about attitude - and that is the reason Jesus addresses the issue. The same seems to be true about the world described in the Bible - we rarely read in the Bible about people who are starving.)


  1. Healthy Actions


    1. Read Matthew 7:7-8. Are there any limits to this promise?


    1. Read Matthew 7:9-10. How does this tend to answer the question I just asked? (It suggests that if we were in charge, we would use love and common sense in giving gifts. That tells me that God does have limits to His promise to give to those who ask. The limit is that He does what is good for us.)


    1. Read Matthew 7:11. Why does Jesus bring us into the picture of making judgments about what should be given? (He wants to make this easy to understand. If we would not do something as a loving parent, then He would not do it as our Father in heaven.)


    1. Read Matthew 7:12. Does this simplify how we apply the idea of mercy? (God entrusts much to our judgment.)


      1. Is this related to what we just read about how God treats us as a loving parent? (If you have a normal, loving view of life and those around you, then you have great insight into what should be done for “the least of these.”)


    1. How many of you have at least one child who is messy?


      1. If you were the messy child, would you want someone to clean your room for you?


      1. If you were the parent, would it be best to clean the room for your messy child? (Your attitude about what is best for that child should also inform your attitude about whether, as a child, you want your room cleaned by someone else.)


    1. Now consider the hard questions. Are there “messy” countries? Are there some individuals who need to clean up their lives?


      1. Let’s drill down on this. Assume a “messy” person who was diagnosed with diabetes at a young age and never did anything about it. That person eats whatever he pleases. What is your obligation to that person when his health fails?


      1. Assume that the messy health issue is reversible. Is your obligation any different? (If the damage is done, and cannot be undone, then I believe that we have a greater obligation to help. None of us is perfect.)


    1. Read Matthew 7:13-14. Why does Jesus say this immediately after He gives the “Golden Rule?”


      1. Is it because it is so difficult to figure out who we should help?


      1. Is it because there are so few who want to follow the Golden Rule?


      1. Should the Golden Rule and the Narrow Gate statements be unhooked? Are they related?


      1. If the two are related, the Golden Rule is about doing things and the Narrow Gate is about salvation. Is salvation about doing things? (That is what this seems to say. But, consider that our entire discussion so far has been about attitude. What attitude should we have about money and worry? What attitude should we have about helping? I used to talk about “righteousness by attitude,” and by that I mean that salvation is not about mere words, or deeds. It is about our attitude towards Jesus.)


    1. Read Isaiah 58:1. What are we going to learn about? (Sin!)


    1. Read Isaiah 58:2. How do these people feel about drawing near to God? How do they feel about learning God’s will? (They delight in both. They have a good attitude - or so it seems.)


    1. Read Isaiah 58:3. How does this suggest that God reacts to these people? (He is not “seeing” it.)


      1. What is the problem? (For one thing, they oppress all their workers.)


    1. Read Isaiah 58:4. What else is wrong? (They quarrel and fight, including physical fights.)


    1. Read Isaiah 58:6-7. What kind of fast does God ask of us? (God says that instead of focusing on a physical fast, you should consider a spiritual fast. Fasting is denying self. An attitude of justice, freedom, kindness and mercy is a spiritual fast.)


    1. Right now, Los Angeles and San Francisco have a huge homeless problem. Would the problem be solved if every homeowner invited the homeless living in a tent outside their home to come live with them? (This is where your education as a parent gives you wisdom.)


    1. Read Isaiah 58:8 and Isaiah 58:11. Compare what you fear would happen if you showed mercy with what God says will happen?


    • Friend, why not ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment in showing justice and mercy to those around you?


  1. Next week: A Community of Servants.