Monday, January 24, 2011

Learning To Love Mercy

Mercy is falling is falling is falling
Mercy it falls like the sweet spring rain... (play sample)

Well it does if you're the one receiving it anyway. That song refers to the mercy and grace that flow down from a loving Father. It's about the joy and jubilance that flood our souls when we receive that gift.

But what happens when you're the one who needs to offer it? Does it still fall like the sweet spring rain?

Daniel's middle name is Micah. We chose that name in large part because of the well known verse located in Micah 6:8 that says,

"He has shown you, o man, what is right
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God".

A few months ago we decided on Micah 6:8 as the next scripture for the kids to memorize together at night. We wanted Daniel to understand from a very early age that this verse should guide his life. They both know it by heart now, as do Michael and I.

Shortly after the new year Brenna did something that I felt deserved a strong punishment. Michael and I spent nearly two days trying to figure out an appropriate consequence, but everything we came up with seemed inadequate or didn't fit the original deed. We were trying to discipline this particular situation in a way that would teach a lesson. As time diminished the anger and brought along disappointment, we simply ran out of ideas. Finally, Michael suggested mercy. He pointed out how infrequently she gets into trouble and that this was definitely not a pattern of behavior. We weren't sure if she was truly sorry for what she'd done, but we knew she was worried about the consequence. We called her to our room and explained mercy to her. I think it fell like sweet spring rain on her heart.

Mercy. It just keeps coming up. In songs. In sermons. In books. In life. Last week Michael was in Lifeway where he discovered a CD of music all related to Micah 6:8. It's just everywhere. Because of that, I've been reflecting on some of the things the Lord "requires of" us.

Most of my world is black or white, right or wrong, it is or it isn't, logic and reason. There's not a lot of gray. The definition of just is to "have a basis in or conform to fact or reason; being in conformity to what is morally upright or good; legally correct". I've got that covered. My logical, reasonable brain likes the call to act justly. It fits me. I get that.

But to love mercy? That part doesn't come so easy. Mercy is the "compassion or forbearance (refraining from the enforcement of something) shown especially to an offender". Leniency is a synonym. Offenders aren't just criminal. For most of us, they are family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. They say or do something that crosses a line and we're ready to hand out the consequence. Verbally, silently, revengefully. Now or later. Mercy doesn't fall like the sweet spring rain when it's up to us to hand it out. Sometimes it doesn't fall at all.

It's interesting that we're to ACT justly, but we're to LOVE mercy. Love means we hold it dear. It means we would take pleasure in mercy.

How different would my life be if I took pleasure in showing compassion to those who offend me? If I learned to love mercy?

Don't answer that.

How different would your life be if you took pleasure in showing compassion to those who offend you? If you learned to love mercy?

Answer that.

Some years seem to start with a theme. I remember a few years back we picked one intentionally as a family. Last year I wanted to work out what it is exactly that I believe. Mercy has chosen me for 2011. Mercy, not just for others, but for myself as well. If I'm going to be letting other people off the hook, I might as well let myself off on occasion as well!

Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God

1 comment:

Ginger said...

Thanks for sharing your heart...isn't it crazy how themes can bombard us from every angle? It's crazy how that happens, must be a God trying to get through our thick skulls. :)
Hugs friend.