You know that person. The one who irritates you. The one who so successfully sets you to fuming and ranting. The one you want to knock upside the head and shout for them to get over themselves.
Yep, I have one of those in my life.
At times she makes it extremely hard for me to be kind. I want to shake her by the shoulders and tell her all that is boiling in my mind. I want to unleash the fury that builds up inside me over her callousness.
Yet God calls us to be merciful.
Luke 6:36 says, “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.”
Merriam Webster defines mercy this way: compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender.
Oh yeah, I’ve been offended alright! I’ve been hurt and irritated and frustrated. But, when I calm down and sort through the situation I realize I need to not make it about me. About how I have been wronged. Even if what has been said or done is hurtful, it doesn’t do me any good to pay those hurts back in the same manner. It doesn’t say much about my character either, if I bemoan my situation to others. Of if I dwell on it and become bitter.
When our Lord Jesus was dying on the cross He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. Jesus is the perfect example of how I should respond to those who offend or hurt me. He is the picture of perfect love. It needs to be about mercy, not revenge. The Lord has shown me his mercy many times over. He is willing to forgive me even when I repeat the same sin again and again. He is compassionate and generous with his love.
Love. It is mercy. It is empathy. It is compassion. It is softness. It is understanding. It is meekness. It is forgiveness. If I have love even for those I deem unlovable, the dirty, the immoral, the rude, the hurtful, the selfish, the sniveling, the addicted, the crude, the mean, then I am loving as the Lord commands me to. And as I love I will be merciful.
Today I will be seeking forgiveness from the Lord for being unmerciful to the one who rubbed me the wrong way with her harsh words. Today I will open up my mind and heart. I will remind myself that I do not know completely what is going on in her life to make her respond in the manner that she did. Today I will not harbor any ill feelings towards her. Maybe she just needs a hug. But, while I’m hugging her I’ll have to remember the importance of mercy or I might be tempted to hug the very breath out of her! Today I will show mercy. I will forgive. I will be compassionate. I will have empathy. I will love.
Most importantly I will remember God’s great mercy for me a sinner, when He sent His ONLY Son to die on the cross for me. May I absorb and reflect that mercy in my life.
Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy towards one another, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it. I Peter 3:8-9