February 19, 2013: Mercy, Me?

Posted on : Feb 19th, 2013 | By | Category: Still Speaking

Goodness knows, I always expect God to be more merciful than me!

One of the most well-known verses in the Bible is about God being merciful:  “Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in God’s presence forever.” (Psalm 23)

Until yesterday, I hadn’t even noticed this other perspective about mercy, which is found in the book of James:  “For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2: 13).  I think it means, “Mercy is not only God’s business.  It’s mine too.”

The Letter of James is a very small book towards the end of the New Testament.  It is often described as a sermon in the form of a letter. There are about 60 imperatives in the letter’s 108 verses!    In my humble opinion, any preacher that has 60 imperatives in a sermon “should” stop preaching!  [An imperative is something that is “absolutely necessary or unavoidable.”  In Old English it’s the equivalent of “Thou shalt.”  In contemporary English it’s “You MUST!”]  Fortunately, this statement from James is not an imperative; but it is insightful.  James teaches:

“For judgment will be without mercy

to anyone who has shown no mercy;

mercy triumphs over judgment.”

This bit of Biblical insight reminds us that “mercy” is not just something we receive; it is something that we are also to give.  Crudely put, “If you don’t offer mercy to others, don’t expect to receive it!”  That is a good reminder to all of us, especially during this season of Lent.  We, not just God, are to be merciful – givers of mercy; forgivers even as God forgives us.

Does that practice of faith sound too hard for you?  As Quinn writes in this week’s “God is Still Speaking” meditation,

~ Maybe I didn’t have to have such a big sigh when my partner forgot to bring home milk, even though he totally said he’d do it, and then totally didn’t.

~ Maybe I didn’t have to lay on my horn quite so harshly when that lady cut me off on the way to work this morning, even though she was obviously in the wrong.

Maybe it’s more possible to be merciful than I originally thought.  Read on and let me know what you think.
Lenten Blessings,

Dan

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