Do You Love Giving Others Mercy?
We often give others what we have received. I thought about this recently as I was driving back from a fantastic meal and conversation with a good friend. The friend had shared an experience where an admission of a certain behavior prompted a minister to remark, “You know you’re going to have shame in your marriage.” I don’t know that minister’s story. Maybe the minister was having a bad day. However, part of me wonders if the minister felt shame in his own marriage. If there were things that minister had not been able to allow God to forgive him for or to stop beating himself with over the head. Sometimes, if we are quick to pass out bags of shame, then it might be because we are swimming in a lot of it ourselves.
We have a hard time leading people where we have not gone. Similarly, we have a hard time showing people a radical forgiveness, lavish grace, and overflowing mercy if we have not experienced it for ourselves. I’m not talking about if we have or have not prayed the sinners prayer or asked God to forgive us. Many people have done that but still carry shame, resentment, and anxiety around inside of them.
Have we accepted the forgiveness God has already given us on the cross of Jesus Christ? Sometimes we see the sacrifice of Jesus as a transaction from which we benefit. It allows God to put a spiritual barcode over our lives that when scanned gets us into heaven. I see the cross as God’s way of saying to us in the most clear, selfless, and powerful way that God is a God who takes on anything and endures anything to make reconciliation possible.
In the eighteenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, one of Jesus’ followers asks Jesus if he should forgive his brother or sister up to seven times. Jesus enlarges the view of God to panoramic proportions when he replies, “not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” We don’t forgive people because it is the nice thing to do. We do it because we have a living relationship with a God who desires to reconcile the whole world through Jesus. We have received that reconciliation and are now called to administer this reconciliation to others.
Which leads me to ask myself and you, “Do you love giving others mercy?”
If we struggle giving others mercy, then perhaps we should consider if there’s an area in our lives where we have struggled to receive God’s mercy.
I have been a jerk. I have been selfish. I’ve said deeply offensive and hurtful things. I have done things meant to embarrass or belittle others. I’ve treated people as means to an end or as objects. I’ve done the easy thing rather than the character thing. I’ve really burned down bridges with some people. Chances are you’ve done some of these same kinds of things as well. Yet numerous times, people have shown me Christ’s love. I have had people embrace me, love me, forgive me, believe in me, and rally around me when I knew I didn’t deserve any of it.
The more and more I can really experience that God loved me while I was still a sinner, the more I am able to love others in that same Light.