I’ve spent too much time over the years feeling stressed out and fearful. I was afraid that I’d disappoint people. I was afraid I’d screw up my children. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be good enough as a wife, a teacher, a friend, etc. You get the picture. And, I messed up a lot and needed mercy. A lot.
Let’s face it. We live in a world where other people often make the rules about what’s in and what’s out. Rules about what to wear. Rules about raising children. And, honestly, the church feels no different. We compare. We prefer one person or group over another. We make rules about which sin is acceptable and which isn’t. The judgment stings, and people walk away.
Social media feeds the “no-mercy” attitude. Dissenting opinions on Facebook are often met with unkind responses or unfollows. On Twitter bullies unleash caustic accusations. Almost weekly, I want to write an apologetic and encouraging tweet to Mrs. Trump after seeing an rude comment written to her or about her.
I’ve been judgmental, hurting people with my decisions and opinions. But, as I age and understand Jesus better, an unexpected change is taking place in me. I’m mellowing. The surprising result? I hold fewer opinions and suffer less offenses. The reason? I’m beginning to understand love and mercy a little better.
It’s not surprising since love and mercy should characterize Jesus’ followers.
James said, “My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith.” James 2:1 The Message
When I stand before God, I think that He’ll ask, “How much did you love?”
James explained that kind of Christ-originated faith:
“Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.” James 2:12-13 The Message
After all, God gave me mercy when I deserved judgment.
“It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it . . .” Titus 3:3-8
Mercy involves extending “kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon on www.blueletterbible.org). As a follower of Jesus, I want to be the first to rush in with mercy.
–when a child rebels
–when a divorce disrupts
–when a same-sex attraction comes out
–when a leader messes up
–when an unplanned pregnancy shocks
–when a friend confesses
Instead of withholding mercy or love, let mercy win the day. “Mercy triumphs over judgment” every time.
I’d love to hear how you’re growing in your understanding of love and mercy. Stay rooted in His mercy. That’s the first step.