Messy mercy

I have a picture on my desk of my two oldest children.  It was taken when they were around the ages of 4 and 8.  To anyone else, it’s just a cute picture of a couple of kids.  To me, it reminds me every day to dispense mercy.

You see, the picture was taken a couple of years after my divorce.  Those first few years were not easy.  You could say it was my own doing, since I was the one who left, and I suffered heavily under my own guilt and shame.  It was multiplied by unkind responses from family, friends, church members, and even a pastor.  At times, I felt completely alone in the world.

Did I deserve to be treated that way?  Yes; I hurt a lot of people.  Did it help the situation to be treated that way?  No, in fact, it made things worse, especially for the two cute kids in my picture – innocent children caught in the exchange of verbal fire.

In addition to mistreatment from others, I began to use myself as a punching bag.  In what became a pointless battle, I beat myself up repeatedly, know full well I could do nothing to change the situation.

A few years later, I was able to find my way out of the boxing ring after reading Psalm 103.  “He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” At first it seemed crazy to me that God would not accuse us of every sin.  After some thought, I realized if He brought conviction upon us for every sin we committed, we’d be convicted all day long.  And a lot of that conviction would be the lack of mercy we show to others, when this verse tells us even the Holy God of the universe doesn’t treat us as we deserve!

What a relief, to know that there is always mercy!  Think about it, have you ever paid the full price for your sins?  Have you ever gotten all that you deserve for the harm you’ve caused others?  Nope.  We owe that to Jesus.  He took the beating we deserved.  God’s own innocent child paid the ultimate price.

A few months ago, our pastor gave a sermon about forgiveness.  He read the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35), and then he shared this Scripture:  “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  In other words, if we dole out “messy mercy” to others, that’s the mercy we will receive in return.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want messy mercy!  I want healthy doses of mercy!

So every time I look at this picture on my desk, I remember the messy mercy I was given after my divorce.  It reminds me to forgive and treat others with the love and kindness I hope to receive in return.  Even if they don’t deserve it.  God knows I don’t.

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One Comment

  1. Dede Holt
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Beautifully expressed. Transparent. Honest. I have been blessed today.

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