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Thoughts on Psalm 23 6: Defined by Goodness and Mercy

Day 6 of Thoughts on Psalm 23

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6, ESV‬‬).‬‬‬

Goodness and mercy—these are just two of the many wonderful characteristics of God. We can sin, fall away, disobey, doubt or worry, but it will not change how God responds. He consistently responds with goodness and mercy, no matter our behavior or attitude. Just stop and think how amazing this is! The depth of His love was so great at Calvary, but His mercy and goodness didn’t stop there—it’s shown to us every day of our lives. Not only are we the beneficiaries of His goodness and mercy, but we are also expected to follow His example. 

As Christians, our call is to imitate Christ. This means that no matter where we go, we should display the characteristics of our Savior. Be honest with yourself as you reflect on this truth. Would people identify you as a follower of Christ by your actions? This is a difficult pill to swallow for most of us as we consider our lives, choices and behavior. 

Are we showing goodness? Are we kind to the people around us? I remember not long ago reading a book on leadership called How Full Is Your Bucket? The main point of the book is whether we are building people up and offering words of encouragement or whether we are tearing people down. I found the book very convicting as I thought of my own life. I realized that so much of what came out of my mouth was negative and not encouraging in any way. Even if I played it off as “joking,” it still wasn’t profitable at all. When Jesus spoke, He showed the people He interacted with how much He really cared. That’s the testimony we want to live before others, following His example. 

The world is filled with hate and is nothing like Jesus. We need to introduce them to our Lord by showing kindness and showing care for their soul. Challenge yourself to show the people around you how much you care by offering them a sincere compliment and focusing on building them up. Serve them and show them that their needs are more important than your own. 

Are we showing mercy? Mercy, by definition, means we are sparing someone from a punishment they deserve. I remember when I was young, my dad would tell me not to play basketball if the car was in the driveway. He didn’t want the ball to damage the car, and so the rule made sense. One night, when my mom and dad were out to dinner, I decided to shoot baskets even though the car was sitting in the driveway. I’m sure you can guess what happened next. I took a long shot, and the ball hit the rim and shot like a rocket straight into the window of our van. It completely shattered it, strewing glass all over the driveway. I was scared to death and ran to my room, nervously awaiting the return of my parents. 

I heard them pull in the driveway, and I heard my sister explaining to them what had happened. Then, I heard Dad’s footsteps, and with each step, I grew more and more anxious. I was fully anticipating to be punished, just as I deserved. However, as my dad entered my room, something incredible happened. He saw how scared I was, and he knelt down and gave me a hug. He said he wasn’t mad and told me how much he loved me. My dad chose to show me mercy, and it was an act of love I’ll never forget. 

It’s in our nature to want people to face the consequences of their actions, but what would happen to us if God acted this way? His mercy brought hope to our lives. It led us to a relationship with Jesus and turned our lives around. If we showed mercy to those in our lives, could the same thing happen for them? Could God use it to introduce them to Jesus? It’s absolutely possible!

Goodness and mercy need to be pillars in our lives as Christ-followers. If we want to be like Christ, we need to consistently show these characteristics of Christ to a watching world. When we freely choose to shower these character traits on others, the most beautiful thing will happen—it will point others to Jesus! What an honor and privilege we have been given to share His message with the lost.

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