Ok. So, I have this floor fan in my vanity area which I pull out and use in the summer months while I blow dry my hair and get ready. In spite of the fact that I’m a bit of a clean freak, I seriously never put it away. I completely forget. Instead my husband puts it away. Everyday. He never complains about it or even comments; he just quietly comes behind me and puts it away. I feel horrible about this – everyday – and apologize for not doing it myself. Finally, he asked me last week, “Why won’t you just let me do it for you? Why do you feel so bad about this?”
Right away I knew at least part of the answer and responded flatly, “Because if you did what I do and you forgot to take care of it every single day, I’d eventually get irritated with you. I can’t accept your mercy for me in this because I wouldn’t extend it to you.” Ouch. Have you ever heard the Holy Spirit speak that poignantly to your spirit like that? It’s pretty stinkin’ uncomfortable.
But it’s the truth. There are things my husband does forget to do and, though I initially have a good attitude about it, I confess that with some things I lose that good attitude eventually and all those ugly wifely lines we hear all our lives start to pop into my head. And although I would never dream of saying them out loud, they poison my soul just the same. Lines like: “If you want something done right….” or “Must I do everything around here?” or “How many kids do I actually have?”
Sad. Sad and ugly.
When I choose to live such a merciless (mercy-less) life, I am choosing not only to be unkind to those around me, but I am also choosing to not accept mercy when it is offered to me.
Jesus told us the parable of the servant who was shown mercy and forgiven a great debt only to go out and choke a friend because of the small debt this man owed to him (Matthew 18). Because of this man’s lack of mercy, he is handed over to the tormentors! Not only does a lack of mercy mean that you cannot be forgiven, it also means you can’t walk in the freedom of the mercy that has been shown to you!
Although this is so true with regards to mercy, it is actually true for just about any virtue. If I can’t extend love to others, neither can I receive it. If I can’t demonstrate kindness to others, neither can I receive it. If I can’t be generous to others, neither can I receive it. Anything that we are unwilling to bless others with, we create a blockage that keeps us from being the recipient.
We all need these things. We all need mercy, forgiveness, love, kindness, generosity… and the list goes on and on. If you are in need of something today, why not extend some to your fellowman. Not only will they be blessed, but you will be healed by the Christ-likeness you show and will unblock the flow between you and what you need.
“Mercy triumphs over judgment!” James 2:13