In the book of Zechariah, God is laying out a bunch of charges against the evil His children had been a part of. He was hitting them for idolatry, sexual perversions, violence, greed and whole a bunch of other sins. Things had not been well in Israel.
However, part way through chapter seven, He turns it around and starts talking about what He does want to see. And in 7:10, God gives a top-5 list of characteristics that should represent His children:
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’”
It’s interesting that God didn’t say, “Obey the 10 commandments” although He certainly want His children to do that. Instead, He gave them 5 action steps that would bring His own heart joy; five actions God wants from His followers that He asks for in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation! Think about these five action steps:
Show true justice (don’t let your decisions be tainted by money, social status or personal gain)
Show mercy to people; remember the mercy God has given you and be willing to give the same to others
Be compassionate; God has compassion on you so that you will have compassion on others
Be kind to the hurting
Think the best of each other
How can you intentionally put one (or more!) of those five actions into practice today? Here are a few thoughts on how to do that:
Could you fight for justice for those who are powerless? Could you advocate for someone who cannot advocate for themselves? Maybe for the unborn? Maybe for the homeless? Maybe for the disabled?
So many people in this world live hard lives because no one has ever shown them mercy. Mercy is withholding punishment to someone who deserves it. The prisoner who deserves to be alone; the child who deserves punishment; the boss who deserves snide comments. So, Could you visit someone in prison today? Could you deal with your children in mercy today? Could you support your boss or teacher even if they haven’t earned the right?
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 reminds us that God gives us compassion and comfort so that we might offer the same to others. Could you have compassion on a homeless man or woman today? Could you show compassion for a hurting neighbor? Our city is under heavy floods today, and there are city-workers and volunteers who are showing awesome compassion by working tirelessly for others’ safety and protection — could you share in something like that? Could you sort clothes at a homeless shelter or visit with children? Could you support a child through Compassion International (or someone other child-supporting agency)?
Be kind to the hurting
How could you put love in action for someone in your life today? Could you visit with a widow or widower? Could you take someone out to lunch who normally wouldn’t/couldn’t go? Is there a way you could support a grieving friend, family or church member? Who in your life is walking through some tough times, could you call and just listen?
Think the best
1 Corinthians 13 tells us all about love, and one of the qualities of love is this: Love always thinks the best. In other words, love assumes the best in what others say and do, not the worst. How could you apply that today? Maybe your boss is being a jerk, but you could assume the best — you might find out she is going through an incredibly difficult time in her life. Maybe you think your friends’ snide facebook update was directed right at you? Possibly you heard two co-workers or friends or church-members talking and thought it was about you? Choose to think best of those people regardless of what circumstances reveal, choose to think the best in others.
Make an effort to please God today by putting just ONE of those 5 actions steps into practice in your life today!