Welcome to our friends from Hungry for More! If you missed it, I had the honor of guest-posting there, on my friend Kandy’s blog, these past two days. You can find Part 1 HERE, and Part 2 HERE. Be sure to read those first! We’ve been talking about MERCY, in the context of James 2:12-13:
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
(James 2:12-13 NIV)
When Kandy first asked me to consider taking on some portions of her series on James, I read the 5 chapters over and over. These two verses kept popping out at me, and I wasn’t quite sure why they stood apart. I committed to covering these verses in a post, and then quickly regretted my decision! The more I labored over them, the more I meditated on them, the more I struggled!
Mercy is HARD!
Mercy is especially hard for me! I have an innate sense of justice. I like everything to be fair and square. I hate double-standards (except of course, when they work in my favor!) God obviously knows this is a weak spot for me so he has brought the issue of mercy to the forefront of the Garibaldi household! Not so coincidentally, we’ve been working through the attributes of God in our family devotions for months now and this month’s attribute just happens to be, “God is MERCIFUL”. Both kiddos can now recite the definition we’ve given to mercy.
Mercy = NOT getting the punishment or consequence we DO deserve.
But actually putting hands and feet to this idea of mercy is tough. Part of the reason it is tough to show mercy is because TRUE mercy can only be enacted by God. Mercy requires a guilty judgment – and only God truly, truly knows the heart and can declare one guilty. So even in acting mercifully, an element of judgment is needed to first declare guilt before mercy can be given! (Did you follow that?)
Another reason mercy is tough is because we have to learn to walk the line between showing mercy and allowing people to suffer sometimes-needed consequences of sin. Ultimately God has shown Christians mercy through salvation and an escape from Hell. But there are plenty of times when God trains our hearts to follow Him more deeply by withholding mercy in a particular circumstance. There are not clear-cut rules about when to show mercy and when to not. This requires a heavy dependence upon the Lord and His Spirit to give us wisdom in each situation.
So as we’ve wrestled through some thoughts on mercy and looked at what Scripture has to say about it and how Jesus’ life embodied it, we’ve come up with this short list of practical ways to show mercy to a watching world.
Because the world IS watching.
And nothing stands out more than a merciful reaction when just punishment has been earned! “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Let mercy win!
Put it into practice! Ask the Lord to give you opportunities to show mercy and then follow Him as He leads:
• Be quick to forgive your spouse or a friend, or even your child. Jesus showed us how to give up our rights. At the cross, Jesus gave up His right to defend Himself before Pilate and His right to call on the hosts of Heaven to rescue Him. (Philippians 2:5-8)
• When faced with poor service, such as by a waiter or waitress, rather than follow the urge to leave a poor tip (or no tip at all), tip generously and leave a note that says, “You’ve probably had a hard day. I hope this helps!” Maybe even leave a Gospel tract!
• Extend mercy to other drivers on the road by slowing down to let them over or wave them ahead when they have obviously messed up and failed to get in the correct lane in a timely manner. We’ve all done it, but how come we get so impatient when it is someone else’s mistake?
• Instead of giving your child the consequence of his or her sin (whatever that may be), take the punishment for yourself and use it as an opportunity to paint a picture of how Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross paid the punishment for our sin. This technique needs to be used very sparingly and only within the context of a good conversation to ensure the point has been made!
• Rather than passing judgment on the dirty, disheveled beggar standing on the street corner by concluding that “He[She] would spend it on alcohol anyway!,” just be generous. Give if you have. Jesus did not ask the multitudes why they were hungry. He just fed them!
• Post a little reminder (in a prominent place that you encounter every day) to be looking for opportunities to let mercy win over judgment. I made this sign that now hangs on the inside of the front door to help us focus on mercy as we head out into the world.
As you can see, this is a SHORT list! We need your help! As you’ve joined us over the last couple days delving into the idea of mercy, what practical examples have come to your mind? Help us expand our understanding of mercy by leaving your thoughts and ideas of how to demonstrate God’s heart of mercy in a comment below.
**By the way…if mercy is an attribute you would like to grown in, and you would like a “Let Mercy Win today!” sign for your home, Throne of Grace would love to give you one! The sign measures approximately 4” by 5 ¾” and will be laminated. Email us at: info[at]throneofgrace[dot]com with your name and address and we will mail one to you, FREE OF CHARGE!**