To Love Mercy
Every time I think I’ve wrapped my head around this idea of mercy, I’m gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) reminded that no, I understand just a small part of it. This study of James is jumpstarting some things in my heart that have hardened and calloused over time. It is a study that is convicting and hard to read, hard to hear, and even harder to put into action. Everything in me wants to shrug it off and pretend that it doesn’t apply to me. And yet the harder that compulsion is, the more I KNOW that it means I need to listen more carefully. It’s a tug-of-war, between my flesh and the Word. And an uncomfortable war at that.
Two weeks ago, my friend, Annie and I were on our way to a movie. We sat at the red light of busy intersection and watched as the car in front of us leaned out of the window and handed a man sitting on the median some cash. I felt my shoulders tighten and the prejudices slip into place. “I have a hard time with that,” I admitted to my friend. Without judgment or scorn, she said, “I used to but then I read Same Kind of Different As Me, and my attitude completely changed. Now I give whenever I feel a nudge from God.”
We continued our discussion during the rest of the drive to the movie and its been marinating in my soul for a while. I’ve turned it over and over in my head, wrestled with it, wrestled with James’ straightforward and blunt language, his call to action. “If you do not live it, you do not believe it.” Instead, I tried to justify my prejudices and my judgments.
Then Monday night happened.
I won’t go into details. They’re not important. But God was merciful in a way that I will never take for granted. I was given a second chance, a second chance that I in no way deserve. And all day on Tuesday, I pondered those two things. How merciful He was in that situation and how I can’t afford to squander this second chance. I was fortunate. I was one of the lucky ones. Because 8 or 9 times out of 10, those second chances aren’t given.
And as I thought about those men and women, the ones who sits on medians, or at the end of highways exits, or on street corners, I realized something. They’re no different than I. I don’t know their stories, I don’t know what brought them to this place in their life. But who am I to judge them?! How do I know that had God not been merciful with any number of stupid decisions in my life, that I wouldn’t be in that exact same position? Who am I to say that their decisions are any worse than mine?
Tomorrow we celebrate the pinnacle of our Christian faith. The moment that Jesus became victorious over Satan, the moment He erased our death sentence. It was the ultimate act of mercy. For we deserve death, we deserve an eternity without Him, but it was only because of God’s mercy that we have been saved.
Mercy. A new facet, a new layer to add to a word that already means so much to me.
And if I am to believe James and his God-inspired words, then I have an obligation to fulfill. I am called to reach out and offer mercy to those who need it, an extension of His mercy for me.
Now to apply these new revelations in practical ways…