I wrote this blog 2 years ago and since that time I’ve seen the power of mercy transform deceived hearts, hard hearts, dead hearts, numb hearts and those who seem to have no heart. I’ve also seen heart-felt mercy offered and then scorned from the one who needed it. It’s always heart-breaking to see the rejection of such an extravagant, costly gift.
Apart from abiding in Jesus and knowing you already have all you need in Him, you will struggle to offer mercy in the way Christ does.
It’s the place of offering mercy as a GIFT, not merely a duty, or an obligation because Christ has forgiven us, but a heart-felt compassion that desires to see your offender repent and be set-free. As I watch people work through forgiveness for serious offenses, I have seen that those who get to this place find even more freedom than forgiving in order to set themselves free. Of course this is true, but even scripture tells us
“so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.” 2 Cor. 2:7
As unpopular as it might be to say, our forgiving others is not just for ourselves…though it starts with us, it can become more than about us. It can grow into a compassionate desire for our offender. Please hear me, I know this is difficult stuff; really difficult for big betrayals and offenses. I understand just the thought of offering and showing mercy to someone who doesn’t deserve it might make you tune out, scream or never read my words again. And that’s okay.
But here is what I’ve seen and experienced:
I’ve seen people get to this place….this place of compassionate mercy for their offender. It’s a place that can’t be forced or manipulated by guilt or fear. It’s a place that starts with sometimes an annoying tug that Christ is inviting us into His heart towards His offenders. Those who get to this place lose any self-righteous air of “forgiving that horrible person.” It’s another level of brokenness that confesses, “Father, I can’t do this but if You are leading me to this place, I say yes.”
I’ve seen serious offenses come full circle where what the enemy meant for evil so backfired that those who should be offended are no longer offended and feel holy love for their offender. I’ve seen the offender crumble under the weight of such a visible gift and go to the deepest repentance. The offender comes to hate their sin and begins to help pull others out of the pit of that sin that seeks to destroy us.
“Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You.” King David
I’ve seen this clearly….in my own life and now in others.
I saw the mercy my husband offered me with no regard to make me pay for the sin Jesus already paid for.
I saw the one who should have been most offended speak honestly about his hurt and then express his vulnerable love for me, with no guarantees that I wouldn’t ever hurt him again.
I saw a man who took my hand and helped me walk through consequences that could not be avoided.
I saw a love from Heaven invade my husband’s pain and sweep him up higher than the offense.
I saw my husband’s deep resolve and faith in Christ that said, “You have hurt me but you haven’t shaken me because my greatest source of love and acceptance is found in the One who died for me.”
Honestly friends, it was such a profound gift of unconditional love, it took time for me to believe it was real and genuine. Even our counselor thought my husband was in denial. But in the walls of our home where no one else could see but God Himself, the gift of mercy changed US. Changed him, changed me, changed my family.
And I’m telling you, when you understand that this kind of mercy is available in Christ and you see the price He paid and He paid it with DELIGHT, it breaks you. It opens up your insides and shines a light that mends the brokenness. When Nathan would make me look him in the eyes as he said, “Kandace, I forgive you and I delight to offer you mercy, “ I saw the joy. I felt the deep love of God chasing after me and it beckoned me to give up my lifelong fight to feel love and acceptance in a real love way.
I know now the joy in my husband’s eyes came from a deep place of faith, believing he would one day see mercy’s reward.
It’s the gospel.
Not our crazy, flawed and outrageous marriage but the message Jesus gave us in the cracks of it. That Christ Himself hung on a cross un-offended with a love that said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” It’s the joy Jesus set before Him as He gazed upon the reward of His suffering. That reward being our love for Him, our gratefulness for His sacrifice and our awe for the price He paid to bring us eternal freedom, never again fearing the punishment of our stupidity.
It’s astounding that some say, “No, thank You. I will not believe such nonsense.” I get it though. I could have said those words when my husband’s eyes were locked on mine offering me mercy when I least deserved it. It doesn’t make sense but it will someday. More sense than it does now with only flawed but beautiful glimpses of a Love that will one day completely transform us and heal us once and for all.
To get the full scope of the mercy story I am going to share this week, go to Genesis 37 and……. keep reading, for about thirteen chapters.
You’ll recognize you’ve come across a severe mercy story when you read these words in Genesis 50:15:
“When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrong things we did to him?”
One of the first signs of mercy being birthed in a heart is the relinquishment of the desire to pay someone back……or in other words,
though someone deserves your judgment, you show them mercy.
Joseph had eleven brothers. All but two wanted him dead. But instead of killing him, they threw him into pit and seized an opportunity to sell him to Midinanite traders who took him down to Egypt.
He got a little zealous in sharing his dreams (Dreams that indicated his brothers would one day bow at his feet) and flaunting his coat of many colors his father made him.
Some say Joseph probably dug his own pit his brother’s threw him in, but come on…..that’s a little harsh for just being a spoiled little brother.
Joseph’s first encounter with his brothers after the pit incident was approximately twenty-three years later. Little did his brothers know God had indeed raised Joseph up to a position of authority that would set the stage for Joseph’s dream to become reality.
Joseph’s brothers bowed before him before they knew it was him. And Joseph wept. He became so emotional he had to excuse himself so as to not reveal his identity for a time.
Joseph was in the position to pay his brothers back for their evil act of throwing him into a pit, selling him into slavery and wanting him dead. One word and his brothers would be begging for mercy.
But Joseph already had it in his heart to show them mercy.
His ability to offer mercy to his brothers came from his profound trust in God.
When Joseph’s brothers were made aware of who Joseph was, they were scared. In fact, they begged Joseph for mercy.
“Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So, therefore, do not be afraid; for I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:19-21 (NASB)
Joseph was able to show mercy because he ultimately did not give his brothers more power over his life than God’s power over his life.
Joseph knew at the end of the day, his brothers would answer to God, not him. So, he chose mercy and trusted God with the outcome.
Joseph did not just say, “I forgive you, now go your way.” He could have and might have meant it, but his desire was to show mercy. His heart was stirred with affection for his brothers, therefore,
he wanted to DO something to solidify his words.
Sometimes God may move us in the same direction. To not just say the words but show the words. Showing mercy through tangible acts of kindness is powerful to the one who deserves judgment. So powerful, it many times softens a person’s heart and draws them into true sorrow over their sin.
So what if we show someone mercy and they don’t care? What if it changes nothing in their heart? What if they keep going in their own selfish way and never acknowledge their sin?
They will answer to God and experience more consequences for their behavior.
And we will have done what God has asked of us. To show mercy, to be merciful and to love those who do not love us.
Being merciful does not mean we have overlooked what has been done. It does not mean we have not felt the pain of being sinned against. Joseph neither overlooked what his brothers did nor was indifferent to the pain he felt.
But rather than being moved by judgment, Joseph was moved by compassion and trusted God.
Do you have someone who has wounded you and you find yourself feeling compassion towards them? That compassion is from God. Pray about a way to show that person a tangible act of mercy that will let them know you have forgiven them.
Most likely this person knows they’ve hurt you because the offense was severe. Trust God to work through your gift and watch what He will do!
I would love to hear your mercy story. I cry pretty much anytime I see mercy given and mercy received. Maybe because it’s uncommon, yet powerful. It transforms hearts and lives and that’s a beautiful thing to witness.