Act 39: Mercy

Mercy is being let off the hook. Mercy is when you’re not given what you deserve. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Today, we’re taking others off the hook. We’re offering mercy to people who are especially difficult, hard to remember fondly, or who just grind us down. The first person to extend that mercy to might be yourself.

 Choose how you’ll complete today’s act:

One option today:
 
We don’t get to choose when and where we’re called to show mercy – in the mundane or the extraordinary. Today, whether you’re cut off in traffic, or insulted, or taken for granted, find your mercy. Is there a situation past or present where you’re struggling to let mercy triumph over judgment? Commit it to God and ask him to help you overcome it.

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“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
(James 2:12–13 NIV)
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Your thought for today:

How many times have we heard someone about to receive the offering in church encourage us using the words in Luke 6:38 ‘Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.’

I was recently challenged that we often misunderstand that verse because, while giving includes money, it is so much bigger than that. Looking at the verse in context, Jesus is not talking about giving money at all, but giving what is often a lot more costly – mercy.

I lead a church in Manchester. In the wake of the terrible bombing in our home city last May I spent the day struggling with so many hard questions about what had happened and yet there were so few answers.

I prayed: comfort for the people affected, wisdom for the police, strength for the paramedics. And for the perpetrators – justice and mercy.

I’ll be honest. I struggled with the last bit. At the time my hands were still clenched fists. I’d been a police officer here for 10 years and the fists tend to clench before I can move them into prayer when I hear about cowardly attacks like this. I was angry. For me it was all about justice and mercy – well, that’s hard. I later wrote on my blog about how we have to make the choice for mercy, and no, it’s not easy!

In the previous verse, Jesus said, ‘Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.’ No mention of money. This is about giving forgiveness, not finance. What we are really challenged to give is mercy. If I give judgment to others I’ll get it back – with interest!

The parallel passage in Matthew 7:1–2 makes the point more forcefully: ‘Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.’

The Bible says in James 2:13 that ‘Mercy triumphs over judgment.’ But that’s not an automatic transaction. It’s a choice. Again, reading the whole verse demonstrates this forcefully: ‘For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.’

Who do you need to withhold judgment from? Who do you need to release mercy to – even if it costs. Today we will all have opportunities as to what we give, and what we receive.


Written by Anthony Delaney
Having formerly been a police officer for 10 years, Anthony went into church leadership in 1995 and now leads Ivy Church, a movement gathering in community centres, an arts centre, a nightclub, a warehouse and even a church building. Anthony’s books include Rough Diamonds, The B.E.S.T. Marriage, OMG and Work It Out. At Westminster Theological Centre, Anthony lectures to graduate level on transformational leadership. Anthony is married to Zoe. They have three grown-up children and four grandchildren.


 

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