Last week, our pastor, who is knee-deep in a sermon series on the book of James, did a sermon on discrimination and why it’s no good.
Note* I write a fair bit about the sermons that are given at my home church. If you ever want to listen along, you can access the podcasts here.
Anyway, the discrimination part was a good reminder and definitely left me with some things to think about, but what really got me was when he spoke about mercy. I’ve taken a number of spiritual gift tests and they always tell me the same thing: Mercy and Administration. The administration part comes easily, this girl loves to organize, take charge, delegate, and get the credit at the end. The drawbacks are that I can be easily overwhelmed when I take on too much and my need for affirmation can lead to hurt feelings when I don’t think I’m getting the recognition I deserve, but God is working on me.
Mercy is a whole different story, though. Growing up, I thought the gift of mercy was just the ability to encourage others, but it is so much more than that. Mercy, I’m finding, is
compassion shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
Mercy requires humility. It’s recognizing that you are in a position of power to do harm and choosing to exercise grace instead of being legalistic. Now, let me caveat. (Can I use caveat as a verb? Well I did. Deal with it.) Mercy doesn’t mean ignoring the actions of others. It’s not the same a condoning wrongdoing or encouraging bad behavior. Instead, mercy is actively choosing to look past the transgression and into the heart of the transgressor. It requires care and attention and mountains of patience as well as epic discernment, but that’s what we’re called to do as Christians. That’s what I’ve been called to do as someone gifted with Mercy.