Monday, February 27, 2006

Let Mercy be the Measure

"In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:2)

Once, back when I had a job that paid very little money, I backed into someone else's truck in the parking lot of the place where I worked. My car was so beat up that you really couldn't notice that it had been hurt. But the truck -- it belonged to the owner, and it was a very nice truck. I went to find him and tell him, hardly knowing where I would find money to pay the deductible on my insurance, but knowing I had to try. The damage to his truck was not so much, less than the amount of my deductible. But that meant I would somehow have to find all the money myself, and I did not know how. But the owner knew my paycheck. He knew whether I could afford to pay. And he told me: Don't worry about it. He would pay for the repair himself. That kind of money was a little enough thing to him. Before that day, I had never really appreciated the owner of the company. After that day, I loved him for his kindness.

In that case, the mercy that I was shown actually cost the other person some money. But in most cases, what does mercy really cost us? Are we really any poorer for forgiving another person? What have we lost when we forgive somebody?

Consider this: we love best those people who have been merciful to us. Maybe we made a mistake, and they never told a single soul. Maybe we said an unkind thing that we regretted, and they never repeated it. Maybe they had a chance to make life difficult for us because of our faults, and they passed up that chance. Haven't we loved them for it?

Consider this: we will never be loved for long by someone who is not merciful. We make mistakes. We are short-tempered and self-centered more often than we realize. We are impatient and insensitive. We are ignorant and apathetic towards things which should fill our heart. We need forgiveness continually. Someone who does not forgive will soon become impatient with us.

Consider this: we will never find another person that we love for long if we are not merciful. We will become angry and resentful. We will harbor bitterness and suspicion. Our long memories will whisper poison into our hearts that will kill our love. Malice and rage are only a short step away from the one who does not have mercy towards others.

Mercy is characteristic of the wisdom from heaven. "The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy." (James 3:17)

Mercy is a gift of God's Spirit. "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully." (Rom 12:6-8)

God, in his mercy, has loved us. He has washed us clean. We who were orphans in this world, he has adopted as his own. We who were strangers, he has welcomed to his table. We who were needy he has helped. This is love: that God loved us first. As his children, it's not for us to be small-minded and worldly, grudging others the same forgiveness we have received, as if we who have received favor had somehow deserved it.

Few things are more difficult than forgiving when we are wronged. Few things are more valuable.


Sven said...

Thanks for that Anne, it really helped me put some things in perspective :D

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