Friday, July 5, 2013

mercy, not sacrifice

  
cross at Finisterre, España

“Jesus helped many people, but He was honest and straightforward about it. He didn’t persecute people after He helped them. And he asked them what they wanted from Him. Sometimes He asked why, too. He held people responsible for their behavior… I think [codependent] caretaking perverts Biblical messages about giving, loving, and helping.”
~Melody Beattie, "Codependent No More"

Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice" 
Gospel of Matthew 9:13 

I’ve usually heard these words, said by Jesus to the ever unpopular Pharisees, as some kind of criticism to them, an inside diss, if you will.

But today, as soon as I read this Gospel, I also heard my heart asking out loud—what do you really mean by that, Lord, that you desire mercy and not sacrifice?

The response was surprisingly immediate: the difference is in the attitude.

If I stop, pay attention, and I’m honest with myself, I know when my behavior—no matter how honorable it may seem—is based on an attitude of “sacrifice.”

When I act out of “sacrifice,” I’m often masking a myriad of other mindsets compelling my behavior. It’s often based on what author Melody Beattie describes in therapeutic jargon as behaving like a “victim,” usually acting out of a codependent “Drama Triangle.”

But let’s not get lost in that language either. 

The point is simple. My behavior can either reveal an attitude of “sacrifice,” centered on the self—or it can reflect a desire to act out of love, giving the self in freedom and authenticity.

This is the loving mercy God desires.

sounds of my backyard, where I do my pondering