I often tell people, “If you see any mercy in me, you’re seeing Jesus.” It’s not that I can’t be generous and sometimes compassionate for people who have encountered difficulties in life.
My problem was with people who were always “shooting themselves in the foot” – making poor choices – using bad judgement – taking the easy way out instead of hanging in for the long hall. I figured that if they were not going to work at getting an education or a good career, were going to mess around with illegal drugs, drink large amounts of alcohol, not take care of their body – yada , yada – then they got what they deserved. So why should I sacrifice for them?
Not too merciful – pretty Pharisaic! That was before I found myself divorced and wondering what next? By my standards of mercy, I was done as a pastor. I had messed up big time by contributing to the death of my marriage with sins of commission and sins of omission. It was then that I began to experience God’s mercy and grace that I had only talked about before.
Previous to that I probably believed that God was sure privileged to have me on his side. Now I was glad to have the Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ by my side to help heal and restore me! Before I had sided with the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15); but now I could identify with the son coming home with hat in hand.
So my perspective on mercy changed – drastically! It’s not a spiritual gift that I’ve been given. It’s an everyday challenge to obey Jesus’ command: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36 – NIV). By the way – this command is second person plural – “You all be merciful …” “Youse guys be merciful …” As I am empowered by the Holy Spirit and surrounded by people of mercy, I am able to be merciful. Thank you, if you are one of those people who have shown me mercy over the years …
Now from my confession to Brandon Hatmaker’s blog …