Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mercy and Peace

James 2:13 says, "Because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!"  This verse in the Scriptures both soothes and scares me at the same time.

Mercy is hard for us flawed humans and forgiving someone who has genuinely wronged me feels almost insurmountable at times.  However, I know myself and all that God has forgiven me for and it's enough to make me cringe.  Therein lies the conundrum. 

I have an opportunity very soon to host someone in my home who, less than a year ago, told an outright lie about me. I don't mean they exaggerated; I mean they lied. They slandered me and they did it in writing. I felt like crud, I was shamed (why do we feel that when we didn't do anything?!) and I was angry, but that's not all. (it never is, is it?)  I did the thing that is my fleshly response to being wronged...I acted like a complete jerk, became sanctimonious and made the situation much worse. Much worse meaning to about the 100th power, in case you were wondering. Basically, I showed no mercy.  Zero. Because, you know...I was "right". So not awesome.

How in the world did this person get an invite to my home, you may ask?  They didn't, at least not directly. God has placed a group in my home that comes as much a shock to me as to anyone else. I'm still a little flummoxed by it, but my spirit is fully at rest, so I'm believing that God is working. When the invite went out to others in my group, it never once...not ever...occurred to me that this person may respond, along with others, that they would love to attend. We will be praying for our homes, our children and our families. We are lifting up our children and our schools. We are believing that God will move and my deepest held desire is that Christ will show up and be glorified in every word, every action and every thought. And then that email reply from her showed up and my heart sank. And once again, I felt like crud. I didn't want her to be there. How was I supposed to pray and honor God when my heart wants to be merciless and cruel?  How was I supposed to honor Christ when what I really wanted to do was break bad and rip into this woman who told lies about me?

I couldn't and I can't.  But, He can.  He can soften my heart and make my motives pure.  He reminds me of who I am in HIM, not who I am when I allow others to define me or even who I am when my flesh takes over and I do ugly things to other people. He reminds me that mercy does not come from anything having to do with me. It flows from Him. HE is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Him. Not me. It isn't about me.  Allowing someone else's actions to define me or control me clouds my vision and makes me want to manipulate and harm someone who is obviously already hurting.  It reminds me that while she lied about me, I was verbally cruel and downright mean.  How am I "better" than her, regardless of how the whole thing started?  I'm not. But He is.

The best part of taking a breath and bowing my will to Him?  Something is happening in me. My anger at her is going away.  My hurt is slowing fading and I'm starting to see that I wasn't hurt nearly as much as she was hurt. Sin is heavy and it's awful. And what's more, I get an opportunity to serve someone who I would never have willingly chosen to serve and something about that is changing me, too. I can't even articulate it, but it's happening.  I want a relationship with Christ and one of the things that I'll be praying about at this meeting is that my children learn to be kind and merciful because Christ was kind and merciful.  I want my kids to WANT a relationship with Christ because He loves them more than I can fathom, but also because He loves them right where they are, in all their imperfectness.  Maybe this is part of that prayer, already being answered because He already knows what I need...

In a world gone crazy, it's important that we are peacemakers.

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