Extending Mercy – Called to Love

Let’s face it…there are times we don’t want to show mercy. There are times I don’t want to give mercy. I don’t want to love without some kind of  return. Yet, I am called to love – to extend mercy without worrying about if love is bouncing back my way. Often we want the person who has sinned against us to pay – some kind of price – something, anything, so that we’ll feel better. “How dare they offend me,” is often our words of retaliation. “How dare they hurt me when I have offered them my love. I’ve sacrificed my emotions, I’ve invested into them, I’ve acted mature, I’ve been the good one…and they have blown it.” It’s so easy to fall into this trap. The enemy will gladly entice you in believing that you deserve returned love, that you deserve to be treated fairly. The enemy hates relationships. Especially the relationship between a husband and a wife.

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Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that another person is where we are spiritually – not that we have arrived, but perhaps the person who has offended isn’t even a believer of the Gospel message. Perhaps they are saved, but still young in their faith. Sometimes, we are on different levels on our walk with Christ and that person is still struggling in a area that we’ve seen victory. We are called to be peacemakers, as much as possible, with everyone. That doesn’t mean we don’t stand up to sin, that doesn’t mean we don’t hold people accountable. It does mean that we keep in front of us the cross – where mercy was extended to us – while we were still lost and vile sinners.

Perhaps in your life someone has recently offended you or maybe it was years ago, but you are still haunted by that offense against you. Maybe it was words spoken this morning, harshly by your husband, maybe you’ve been accused of something that you haven’t done, maybe someone used you in the most evil way, or have betrayed you and your trust…whatever it was, sin has taken place and you’ve been the recipient of the far-reaching and deep feeling tentacles of that sin. You have been wronged. So you have a choice – allow bitterness and hatred to swallow and consume you or you can allow God to deal with the sin. There are times we are called to take action and take a stand against sin, still believing that God will ultimately be the one to deal with that person in their disobedience. We are called to extend mercy – when one asks for forgiveness or when they are no longer able to request it.  Whatever the case, remember that God has first, extended mercy to you by offering His son on the cross.

In my book, Waiting for His Heart, I talk about mercy a lot. I had over twenty years to pile up hurt, disappointment and resentment. I could have chosen to keep shoveling out of that pile, heaping the hurt upon my husband’s head, but that would have stifled our restoration. There was a heaping pile of offenses against me, but I also had to make a choice to look next to my husband’s sins and offenses against me and our children, recognizing that I  had my own heap. My garbage was just as hideous. My sins looked a little different, but they were there and they were vile, nonetheless. They still darkened my soul and my heart. They were still offenses against my husband. Most importantly, they were offenses against God. That’s the biggest point we miss – when someone sins against us – they are sinning against a Holy God…we only view it as a violation to us.

With our own heaps of evil stinking up the air next to us, we so easily call out others’ wrong doings, but a Holy God has no heap, no tainted heart, none of our selfish and wicked ways? If we, sinful man, are forgiven by a Holy God, shouldn’t we, forgive others who sin against us?

We are all called to love, not necessarily be loved – that is something our society has a hard time wrapping a warped brain around.

We are called to extend mercy…even when it doesn’t make sense. It sure doesn’t make sense in human terms that God Almighty – Perfect Love and Holiness extends it to me. It doesn’t mean we forget, it means we choose forgiveness.

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May friendship, encouragement and grace abound!