My friend Melba, told me a story concerning her little girl Katharine Ann, She and “Kitty” had been shopping at a flea market sale.
“A very nice lady was manning a booth with what looked like expensive pottery and glass ware" Melba said. "To replace the pottery would cause a hardship on me for sure. However as children will, Katherine Ann had to touch and examine a piece of pottery. I turned around in time to watched it fall to the floor breaking into smithereens. Kitty was sorry, and scared at the same time I was horrified,” she continued, “and mentally prepared to pay for the vase somehow. I would deal with Kitty later.”
But the story ended in Mercy. The owner of the booth forgave Katherine Anne, and proved it by giving her a vase to call her own. Mercy! She did not get what she deserved, but a gift of forgiveness instead.
Mercy means to “treat others better than they deserve”. We as Christian believers did not, (do not) deserve the Lord’s forgiveness. All human race is in the same boat. We’ve done nothing to deserve His mercy, yet it is ours.
With all the injustice in the world, thinking of extending mercy to an abuser is difficult and not always achieved. Just ask the victims of violence, rape abuse or racism. Forgiving and showing mercy is not a natural thing. It is supernatural and the ability to do so is what the Lord will birth in us when we are willing to receive His help.
Jesus in human flesh, showed us it can be done. On the cross, the man in the middle who had victimized many, was a thief (not to mention what ever else he may have done) was extended mercy from Jesus himself. (Luke 23:43.) Also, Jesus looked down from the cross and prayed for those who were crucifying him, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Mercy!
The Prodigal son is another example of what Mercy looks like. A son who left home prematurely. His father knowing in his heart, the son was not ready for the world, but loving him so much he wanted him to experience life, let him go. The son took what would eventually be his and left, leaving behind a grieving father and an aggravated brother. I hurt for that father. It is difficult to release children prematurely. We have mixed feelings of, "I wasn't through", "There was something more I wanted to teach him". "Something else I wanted to say to help prepare her for life".
The day came however, when the son had had his fill of the hog pen and longed for the way it was at father’s house. So when he decided to go home, we see the best picture of Mercy at work. With out stretched arms, the father welcomed the son. Even threw a party in the boy’s honor. Mercy!
Judging in the natural, the boy did not deserve anything from his father at this point, for he had already taken his portion. He had squandered his inheritance and wasted years of relationship with his family. Yet, when the father sees him, he drops what he is doing, and greets him with outstretched arms.
So, what does mercy look like?
Mercy is the extended arms of a father.
Forgiveness is arms around the neck of the offender.
Mercy is a kiss.
Forgiveness is throwing a party.
Forgiveness & mercy is inviting everyone to celebrate.
Jesus with outstretched arms praying for his offenders. Mercy!
What does Mercy feel like? You and I should know, if we have been forgiven by the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgiven for sins that were atrocious, where we were intentionally cruel; where we said things we should not have said, or did things that we should not have done. Mercy! What we received instead of what we deserved.
As wounded as you may be who read this, please remember that extending mercy and forgiveness has been played out for us to pattern after.
Jesus is our prime example. And He gives us the Grace and Power to follow through. Personally, I want that Mercy He extended to the thief on the cross. I want the Mercy the prodigal son received from his father. I don’t always do things right. I have made mistakes that have had lasting repercussions. Mercy has always been available to me. With that, I understand a little bit about Mercy. Mercy, receiving pardon even though I don’t deserve it. Oh How Great is My God!