Well, she made her bed

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Ours is a culture that knows little about mercy. “Giv’em what they deserve,” we insist. American jails and prisons are full to overflowing. Our political system is in a state of constant war, the ‘win’ valued over seeing the issues through the eyes of the other guy. We seem to take a perverse delight in the fall and/or destruction of the famous, the powerful.

In a conversation I was talking about someone whose life was really broken, full of dysfunctional behaviors, and what could be done to help changes things. A younger person spoke up with words I might have spoken myself a couple of decades ago. They were harsh, perhaps true, but without compassion or mercy. Their words threw blame back on that individual who was so broken.  As I walked away, I felt such sorrow.  A breathed a silent prayer, asking God to forgive the judgment, to give a tender heart that was willing to enter into the experience of another even at cost to himself.

What is mercy? It is showing another compassion or forgiveness when it is without your ability to punish or condemn them. It goes beyond withholding judgment out of politeness as in thinking ‘what an idiot’ but not saying it aloud. Mercy causes a person to consider the needs of the other, to actively pursue the best interest of one that may well justly deserve anger or rejection.  Mercy is not to be confused with being naïve or incapable of facing reality like a grandmother who just cannot face up to the truth about her beloved grandson who is actually a brat for whom she makes all kinds of excuses.

“But, Jerry, I love justice! I want the score settled, bad guys put in their place.” Yes, justice is good, but our ‘justice’ is frequently flawed, often colored by self-interest, or fails to account for the context of the actions of another. We need to think about the possibility of redemption or change. We get angry when someone is unkind, or selfish, or hurtful and we want them to pay … except that Jesus calls us to be different. Are you full of mercy? Jesus says that it is a pathway to joy! “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7, NIV)

The mercy to which God calls us is modeled after His own. He knows us inside out, seeing our core motives, knowing even our ‘secret’ sins. And He holds out hope and renewal. “Where is another God like you, who pardons the sins of the survivors among his people? You cannot stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing mercy. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” (Micah 7:18-19, NLT)

If we keep a careful record of every slight, every hurt, refusing to be merciful – we become a captive of anger, turning into a sour, cynical individual. No wonder Jesus tells us mercy is a choice that leads to ‘blessedness.’

On this Monday morning, listen to your words, inventory your thoughts. Are they harsh? Are you a critic? Do you blame and judge frequently?

Our word from the Word calls us, in the Spirit, to a new way. “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible. Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord.

Instead, do what the Scriptures say: “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you.” Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:17-21, NLT)

Father, help us! It’s hard to let You judge, to release those who hurt us from our condemnation. Teach us to be merciful. In Jesus’ name. Amen
____________

Good, Good Father

(Casting Crowns sings a great song about God’s love)

I’ve heard a thousand stories
Of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper
Of love in the dead of night
You tell me that You’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

 You’re a Good Good Father
It’s who You are
It’s who You are
It’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am
It’s who I am
It’s who I am

 I’ve seen many searching for answers
Far and wide
But I know we’re all searching for answers
Only You provide
Because You know just what we need
Before we say a word

 You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

 Love so undeniable I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
Into love love love

 Anthony Brown | Pat Barrett © 2014 Capitol CMG Paragon (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Common Hymnal Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Housefires Sounds (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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