Wesley’s second sermon based on Jesus’ teaching on the Sermon on the Mount encompassed humility, righteousness and mercy.
He outlines who are the humble, the ones for whom pride and arrogance have no place in their heart. Humility is about relationship. The relationship we have with God and with fellow humans. Wesley says that we should have an attitude of mildness with fellow believers and of gentleness with non-believers.
We are able to be mild and gentle because we are given the ability by the Lord through his love. Once we have experienced his grace and mercy we hunger to share that grace and mercy and love throughout the world.
Humility begins in the heart and it equips us to avoid anger, avoid name calling even to the very mild Aramaic word “Raca.” Turn the other cheek, do not argue with someone else, settle disputes no matter what the personal cost to ourselves.
We must settle disputes, in families, in communities and in churches. Too often people are ready to be offended and offend. The death of a family member can cause a rift between people that lasts for generations and all it takes to stop it, is a handshake, a hug, the giving of a piece of land. God loves us so much, he sent his only Son that whoever cleaved to him would not perish and yet we get hung up over a piece of jewellery or a dresser or a sod of turf. We eagerly, as a society, love to be offended because then we can ride roughshod over the offender. How often is someone hailed as a celebrity one minute and then shot down in a hail of bullets the next?
The barrier of pride and arrogance, that sets us up as better than someone else have to come down. We don’t know their story, we don’t walk in their shoes. We cannot say that this person is righteous and this person isn’t because we can’t see in the hearts of those people. Likewise we cannot present ourselves to the world as humble or righteous or merciful. Our actions must go before us.
One by one people are coming to know Christ because of the lives we lead, not our rhetoric from the pulpit, or our bible knowledge but the way we live authentic lives in Christ. And the lives we lead are a gift from God, we are invisible stepping stones pointing to Christ.
Righteousness is doing what God requires of us. It begins and ends with the love of God, his love for us and our response, our love for him and the love he has for all humans and the love we have for everyone too because first he loved.
We desire to do what is pleasing to the Lord, it doesn’t matter if we sing off key or we stutter over our words as long as the heart is singing and speaking. We hunger and thirst the Lord like a newborn baby thirst and hungers for milk. We long for our spiritual appetites to be filled. We yearn to spend time with the Lord and read his word and communicate with the Living God. And we pray that we never lose this urge and desire that we are always hungering and thirsting after more of Him.
The mercy that God gifts us makes us acutely aware of how many people do not know the Lord. We are tender-hearted and compassionate of those who are not yet believers and we grieve for them because we love them so.
Wesley in his third section uses the great “love” passage from 1 Corinthians again, which has been written about in previous posts.
He ends with a blistering attack on church, all churches not only the RC church but the reformed too. How churches love for another one to be in trouble and rush to mock the afflicted.
But his last few words – May your soul continually overflow with love, swallowing up every evil thought until the day when he calls you to heaven, to the kingdom of love, there to reign with him forever.