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Jesus said, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” One way that keeps us from not showing mercy is by using labels. The Pharisees had a label for people who did not see fit to follow their strict code of rule keeping—they called them “people of the land” (but not because they were all farmers!) The Pharisees, relatively few in number, considered themselves superior to the multitudes of the people of the land.  But lest we be too quick to judge the Pharisees on this matter, we should ask what kind of labels we use for groups of people that help us maintain an “us” vs. “them” mindset. We might jokingly refer to “the riffraff” or “the unwashed masses,” but behind those jokes, do we really perceive ourselves to be better?  Beware that our labels do not keep us from being merciful. 

Prayer: Jesus, show me where I have used labels, even jokingly, to avoid being merciful to other people. 

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