For the Merciful | Happy’ness
Monday— “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7
“I’m so sorry,” Lyla cried. Her eyes brimmed as she stared at the dented fender. “I’ll…I’ll pay for it. I—”
“How could you be so careless!” her furious neighbor raged. “Yeah, you’ll pay for it and I’m taking you to court for being on my property. Look, your tires are on MY grass. I’ll win because I’m in the right!” He stormed away as Lyla burst into tears.
Was the neighbor right? He was accurate in everything he said, but was he right? To be right, our response needs to fit the situation, and there’s more to consider than accuracy. Lyla was repentant. She wanted to correct her error, but her neighbor refused to allow that. A merciful neighbor would have given her a safe space to correct her error. He would have exchanged insurance information, taken some photos, and assured her that it would be all right. To be merciful, we must rise above accuracy. Accuracy requires only facts; mercy asks what the situation needs. Mercy keeps in mind how it would hope to be treated in the same situation. Mercy is not a perversion of justice, but a balancer that has the other person’s long-term best interest in mind. God keeps careful record of our merciful responses and when we need mercy, He checks His account books.
Final Thought: When someone wrongs you, are you more concerned about being accurate or being right?
Prayer: Father, I know how much I need mercy. I mess up all the time and I appreciate it when someone I’ve wronged is merciful to me. Help me be that for other people. Even when I’m accurate, help me be merciful. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
“I will not forgive her. She doesn’t deserve it!” (No, she doesn’t.)
“Forgiveness is just too hard.” (Yes, it is.)
“He deserves every bit of my wrath for what he did!” (Yes, he does.)
You’ve been wronged. Terribly wronged. There is no excuse for it. It left scars on your heart and altered your future. Now what? You have a decision to make about what you do with a wrong that was dumped in your lap. You can hang on to it, nurse the wound, seethe with bitterness, and live as a wounded animal. OR…you can take directions from the One who created your heart. He says there is freedom ahead if you’ll do it His way. His way is to take your eyes off the offender and put them on Jesus. Why Jesus? Because He did it first. He knows the horrible things YOU did against your Creator, the high treason you committed, the moral insanity you lived in, and then He held out His hands for the spikes and said, “I’ll take the punishment so you can be forgiven.” That’s the One who tells us to turn around and forgive other human beings. He never asks us to do what He hasn’t already done, so all we do is follow His example. If you’ve been given mercy, you have the power to be merciful.
Final Thought: We can forgive horrible wrongs when we keep our eyes on the One who has forgiven us first.
Prayer: Father, I can’t forgive when I keep my eyes on the people who wronged me. But when I turn my eyes to you, and remember what you did to forgive me, I have the strength to show mercy. Help me model your mercy. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13
Those in the courtroom sat in stunned silence as the judge weighed his next words. “You know, Mr. Smith, I was inclined to show a little leniency, since this is your first offense. I like to try to give defendants every possible way to redeem themselves. That is until I listened to your victim’s testimony. He pleaded with you for mercy, even arranged a repayment schedule that he was keeping. Then his house burned down and his wife got cancer, but he paid something every month anyway. I’ve got the receipts right here. But you were relentless in tormenting him. Yes, you had the right to demand repayment, but because you showed no mercy, I’m going to use my authority to sentence you to the harshest punishment the law allows. And you will not be considered for probation or any reduction of your sentence. You have forfeited your chance for mercy from this court!”
That Judge is the Lord. We will all stand before Him to give an account of our actions, our motives, and the opportunities we had to show mercy to others. Mercy does not mean we let evil go unpunished. Justice and mercy go hand in hand. But we can forgive and care about an offender, even while testifying to his crimes. We let the law exact justice while we extend mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement when we are eager for signs of repentance so we can restore a relationship. Mercy triumphs over judgment when we’re glad that someone got a second chance (or third, or fourth…). Mercy triumphed over judgement at the crucifixion when Jesus cried out, “Father, don’t hold this crime against them!” He did that so we would know how.
Final Thought: To have the heart of Jesus, we must rejoice when someone who wronged us is given a second chance.
Prayer: Father, it’s easy to pass judgment when I see how wrong someone was, but that’s not my job. That’s your job. Mine is to show mercy and get ready to restore them when they repent. Help me be glad when offenders get a second chance. Amen.
Thursday— God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. Romans 9:18
The fact that you are reading this means God is extending mercy to you. If you’ve heard God’s voice calling you, if you’ve been convicted over your sin, or sought forgiveness through Jesus, then God has shown you mercy. Otherwise, you wouldn’t care about any of that. There is a divine tension between the free will of man and God’s sovereign election which we are not intended to fully grasp. He’s God. He can do that, and He makes no apologies about the fact that He chooses some for specific purposes and not others. But His invitation to obedience is open to all: “…whosoever believes in Him…” (John 3:16).
Mercy is part of God’s nature. He shows mercy to us because He is merciful. He doesn’t have to. He was not obligated to offer salvation to any of us. He could have seen our rebellion and wiped us off the earth. Instead, His mercy offers to buy us out of our enslavement to sin at the cost of His own Son. He lavishes mercy on anyone who calls on Him. Mercy pronounces the guilty, “Not Guilty!” Mercy offers kindness when we deserve wrath, patience when we’ve tested the limits, and grace when we we’ve taken it for granted. But mercy does not mean Almighty God is subject to our whims. He is not a Genie we can order about at will. Mercy doesn’t mean “pushover.” It means that if we have the high privilege of hearing His voice, reading His word, and being forgiven of our sin, we’d better take Him up on it immediately. His mercy won’t always be ours for the taking.
Final Thought: We’re in great danger when we assume the mercy of God will be there when we’re finally ready to obey Him.
Prayer: Father, I’ve assumed I could call on your mercy when I’m good and ready to stop sinning. But maybe I’m listening to Satan’s lie. I have heard you calling me and I’m grateful. Thank you for having mercy on me. I receive it. In Jesus name, amen.
Friday—What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
Three things God requires of every human being: Do what is right, keep God first in your priorities, and love to see people receive mercy. Notice that this doesn’t say only that we are to be merciful but to LOVE mercy. It’s one thing to grudgingly say, “Okay, I guess I’ll overlook it this time.” It’s quite another to be overjoyed when we have the chance to be merciful. Loving mercy sounds like this: “I’m so glad his wife forgave him.” “I’m relieved that kid is getting a second chance.” “I got to let Jim off the hook for what he did. Made my day!” Loving mercy can be opposite of our natural reaction, so how do we do it?
Think of the dumbest thing you’ve done, the sinful act that still brings shame when you remember it. Yeah, that one. And that other one, too. Has God forgiven you? How do you know? One reason we don’t love mercy is because we’re not sure we’ve received it ourselves. But if you’ve put your trust in Jesus as Lord of your life, then your sin has been canceled. If you’re still holding out, you’re in trouble. God’s mercy forgives our sin when we surrender to His Son as Lord. That full pardon brings an overwhelming relief that motivates us to do better. We loved the mercy that gave us a second chance, so we now love the fact that someone else is getting the same opportunity. God loves mercy and we’re most like Him when we love it too.
Final Thought: Loving mercy means we’re overjoyed when someone else gets another chance to do better.
Prayer: Father, I want to learn to love mercy as much as you do. You have shown so much mercy to me when I’ve blown it over and over. Help me be as happy as you are when someone else gets another chance to do better. In Jesus’ name, amen.