As we take a look at mercy, let’s look at what exactly the Lord is requiring of us. As we do this, I think we’ll find ourselves both challenged to make some changes, and overwhelmed as we grasp how deep His love is for us.
Mercy is defined as “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender”. You and I. We’re the offenders, the sinners, the broken. And God? He’s the Savior: full of mercy, forgiveness, love. You and I? We deserve punishment and penalty. God? He gives us what we don’t deserve: compassion, understanding, loyalty. It started in the garden! And He hasn’t changed yet.
“Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.” Micah 7:18
“But delight to show mercy.” Here we start to uncover how we’re being told to “love mercy.” We aren’t just told to be merciful, but to have an eagerness to show mercy. And please don’t disregard that here we’re not just being asked to love mercy, we’re being told to love mercy. How’s that for a challenge? I struggle to even find the extra patience and kindness for someone when I’m feeling offended, let alone look forward to giving that love!
“You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
You will be faithful to Jacob,
and show love to Abraham,
you pledged on oath to our ancestors
in days long ago.” Micah 7:19-20
Repeated compassion, dismissal of sins, faithfulness, love, loyalty. I’m really, really, challenged here, ladies. If you’re a mother, you too have felt repeatedly offended. (“How many times have I told you not to wear muddy shoes in the house?!”) If you’re a wife, you, too. (“Why can’t you remember what I told you?!”) If you’re a woman of any sort, you’ve felt repeated offenses as well. (“But I wanted that parking spot!” or “I asked for no mayo on my sandwich.”)
Okay, so these offenses are small, but maybe they are our starting place for loving mercy. When we can display a sincere eagerness to demonstrate God’s grace on the “simple stuff,” then we can move on to loving mercy towards the complicated stuff.
Like when your spouse cheats on you. Or your best friend gossips about you. Or your child lies about smoking. Or your mother forgets to show up. Or your coworker takes credit for your effort. These are the scenarios where God needs our first thought to be reconciliation, not retaliation.
“But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them,
for you are a gracious and merciful God.” Nehemiah 9:31
To reconcile does not mean that things go without consequences. Remember earlier, the call to act justly? Just because we seek to offer forgiveness does not mean there are never ramifications for the offender. We all know God disciplines the ones He loves.
So as we look at our opportunities to love mercy, may we remember God’s unfailing love for us and use that as the lens in which we view our confrontations. It won’t be easy, but I’ll encourage you if you encourage me : )