I Peter 1:3-5 ESV
Thoughts on Scripture for Life
It seems difficult for humans to understand and practice giving the gift of mercy. While I’ve known a few people who are quick to give mercy, I’ve not witnessed giving mercy as a common practice.
I think that’s because it’s counter-cultural…especially in the 21st Century. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, it’s just not common practice.
Looking back to when I was a child in the late 1950’s I remember wondering why my Grandma Rubie didn’t ever seem to get mad at anyone.
My Mother’s Mother was born in 1902. She was born in Randolph County Missouri and moved to Jackson County, Missouri as an adult. Since I lived in Jackson County, Missouri until I turned 30, I spent a significant amount of time at my grandmother’s house.
As a matter of fact, we would go to Grandma’s house every Sunday after church. On special occasions we would eat Sunday dinner there, but most of the time we went there to visit. That was important because we had time to talk.
I noticed Grandma Mac (Rubie) didn’t say things about other people.
I also noticed she didn’t get “cross” with anyone.
Until the day she died in 1994, what I remember most about my grandmother was her giggle.
I didn’t know it when I was a child, but my Grandmother Mac was a very small woman. She was five feet tall (one inch taller than myself) and she weighed 90 pounds most of her adult life. She gave birth to four children, one boy and three girls. Her oldest child was a girl who was born in 1923 and she died when she was one week old. My mother was her third child and she was born in 1928.
I remember hearing my Grandma giggle a lot even when things were hurried or tense. When problems arose, she would giggle and talk about how it could be fixed.
If someone was not being kind, she would immediately giggle and offer mercy.
Because of that, I came to see mercy as a gift and I thought God only gave that gift to certain people.
Through the years I’ve known other people who are compassionate. If someone is suffering or hurting, they hurt with them. That was different than what I noticed about my grandmother. While her compassion did show up, what I noticed most was her ability to forgive someone quickly. She immediately gave mercy.
That’s what God does (and did) for us when He sent His son to earth.
God was and is merciful to us. God was merciful and He sent His son to die for us. God immediately offers us mercy when we turn to Him and ask for His forgiveness.
I’ve also know people other than my grandmother who give mercy, but I haven’t known many who offered it as quickly as she did.
With one giggle, she gave mercy.
It’s almost as it she could see the person who needed mercy was suffering.
I think I noticed my grandmother’s mercy most when I was a little older. See, when someone is mean to me, I pout.
I have tried to be merciful or at least to look merciful, but inside I’m still pouting. I do not have the same gift of immediate mercy that my grandmother had when she was on earth.
As an adult I learned that mercy and compassion are closely intertwined. The best way I can explain the difference is that mercy is given to the suffering by someone who is compassionate.
Peter wrote about God’s mercy in I Peter 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Because Jesus was merciful, He died a cruel death on the cross so we might live.
Through His death, God gave us an inheritance that will not ever perish, cannot be spoiled, will not fade, and is being guarded in heaven by God’s faith.
Notice, the inheritance is not being guarded by OUR faith, it’s guarded through God’s faithfulness to us.
Remember the fruit of the Spirit (qualities of God) the Apostle Paul wrote about in Galatians 5:22-23 are, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
God is love, God is full of joy, God is peace, God is patient, God is kind, God is good, God is faithful, God is gentle, and God has self-control.
Those nine characteristics tell us the basic qualities of who God is…
God can give us parts of those qualities, just like God can give us the ability to be merciful.
My grandmother was a merciful woman because God graced her with the ability to give mercy.
Do you have the ability to offer mercy to others? If you do possess the ability to be merciful, it’s because God gave that to you.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Mercy
If you possess the ability to give mercy to others, thank God for it.
Consider the fruit of the Spirit and make a list of what qualities of God you have been given.
In God, Deborah