Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 He asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. John 21:17
The commandments, Don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t desire what others have, and any other commandments, are all summed up in one word: You must love your neighbor as yourself. Romans 13:9
The major theme of both the Old and New Testaments is that God wants us to love and care for one another as God loves and cares for us. God tried to tell us that through the laws (You must not take revenge nor hold a grudge against any of your people; instead, you must love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. Lev. 19:18) reminding people that what we do has consequences not just for ourselves but for others. “I am not hurting anyone but myself” is hardly, if ever true.
God tried telling us through the prophets (what is good and what the LORD requires from you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8) who constantly called the people back to loving God and loving each other.
When humanity wouldn’t listen, God finally sent Jesus to show us just what a life of loving God and neighbors would be like. Jesus never waivered from that way of life even when it led to the cross.
The mercy and forgiveness offered to us through Jesus’ sacrifice is because of God’s love and not because we deserve it. However, once we acknowledge the sacrifice, Jesus expects us to follow the example of his life as we seek to live out the commands to Love God and Love Neighbor.
Acts of mercy are the living manifestation of loving our neighbor. John Wesley believed that through these acts of kindness, generosity, and sacrifice, we would experience God’s grace in our own lives. Acts of mercy include major acts of sacrifice such as participating in a mission trip or regularly volunteering in your community. But it can also be a small act of kindness or word of encouragement. The point is that it is not a one time act.
We never get to retire from acts of mercy, kindness, generosity and sacrifice. We consciously practice them everyday until they become so much a part of who we are that we no longer have to think but just do.