Friday, August 28, 2015

The Quality of Mercy...Strained.

This blog post is too short. It should be at least five hundred words in order to fulfill requirements of a course of study I have undertaken. It's not that I am ironically straining at others' mercy so much as I am still reeling so badly from the results of having shown mercy that I am composing this with just sixteen minutes to spare before the midnight deadline that I nearly forgot entirely.

I cannot give details, since they would unfairly identify those toward whom I have extended mercy, only to watch them throw mercy to the wind as they throw themselves to the swine. I mean to imply that they are pearls, though they hardly see themselves as such. That explains why they return, instead, to behaviors and relationships and habits that they know are harmful to them, their families, and/or their testimony to faith in Christ.

Jesus said that those who show mercy are blessed, because they are the ones who will receive mercy. I am tempted to quit showing mercy in the face of having failed to accomplish any improvement in the lives of those to whom mercy has been extended. But I wonder if perhaps Jesus had it backwards.

Before you become overly concerned at that apparent heresy, understand that what I mean is that with this Beatitude, as we do with most of them, we may not fully understand just how counter-culturally Jesus' words need to be taken.

If I show mercy in hopes of receiving mercy, then I probably am not truly merciful, but mercenary. I am a soldier-for-hire, doing as Jesus says because I expect to get something out of it.

But the fact of the matter is, long before I ever had any intention of showing mercy to anyone, even before I really understood what mercy was, it was shown to me. Billy Graham has preached on how most of us ask why there is no justice. And yet, he points out, we don't want justice. None of us wants what we deserve as rebellious betrayers of the image and likeness we were created to bear.

What we want, he notes, is mercy.

I didn't know what it was. I just knew what I deserved. And Jesus offered to withhold that, and present me with the blessing of finding, fulfilling, and finding fulfillment in a life purpose for which He designed me before I could ever conceive of such a fact.

I was shown mercy. And in such measure that makes my petty concerns about whether my mercy has a tangible effect on others...well, it just sounds silly at this point. Because if God's mercy were contingent upon my making greatest use of it...I'd have no mercy shown to me whatsoever.

There are five people I have in mind as it nears midnight in a hotel room far from home. I am here, in fact, to show mercy to still others, some of those who actually accept it with gratitude. (Others, however, would prefer that they not be shown mercy, but their objections have been strenuously presented, acknowledged, and determined to be contrary to the answer I get to the question, "What would Jesus have me do?")

So, as the opportunity arises to say "I told you so," or "Pay up," or "No, that's enough; you get no more," I will choose to show mercy. Because Jesus did tell me so, but He doesn't say, "I told you so." I owe Him everything, but he never asks me to "Pay up." And when I have squandered His provisions for my needs on my wants and desires, He still hears and answers my prayer for the resources to meet my needs. Mercy begets mercy. But not mine for His. His came first. Mine, then, has to last.

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