During the season of church softball, I enjoy having extra mercy and grace. We get a grace foul, which I need since I usually hit down the third base line. We also have a mercy rule when a team scores more than 15 points over another team, and this helps when playing teams with lots of young players who have serious softball experience.
But you only get one grace foul, and the mercy rule means one team triumphed while another was, well, humbled. Mercy and grace in church softball illustrate the contrast between how man doles out grace and mercy and how God does.
Man often places limits on grace and bases mercy on what is fair or reasonable. This does not reflect God’s view of grace and mercy.
Mercy means we don’t get what we deserve when we mess up. It also involves having compassion when hurt & offended. God tells us we are to…
- Love mercy. (Micah 6:8)
- Show mercy. (Matthew 5:7)
- Be merciful. (Luke 6:36)
- Receive mercy. (1 Timothy 1:2)
- Seek mercy. (Hebrews 4:16)
- Slow to anger.
- Rich in love.
- Full of truth.
Unfortunately, showing grace and mercy become difficult amidst hurt feelings and wounded pride. They become difficult when your kid does exactly what you’ve told him 100 times not to do. Grace becomes hard when your family once again fails to support you. And mercy doesn’t come easily when another Christian offends you or when you suffer because of another’s poor choices.
How can we overcome these strong emotions that only create drama and lead to regret when we fail to extend mercy and grace?
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:14-15)
We overcome the flesh with its intense emotions by clinging to Jesus. He knows our weaknesses because He experienced them. We can trust the One who places no limits on grace and mercy for those who turn to Him.
Jesus alone makes us able to love mercy, show mercy and be merciful. He alone makes receiving and seeking mercy possible. He will give us the grace and mercy we need for ourselves and plenty more for us to extend – without limits – to others.
Only by spending time with Him regularly – soaking up mercy and grace – can we hope to be able to give mercy and grace to others. Consider the words of Psalm 103 to gain perspective on the mercy and grace He so abundantly gives.
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (vv 1-5)
The more I take in His mercy and grace, the more I realize the necessity of giving it out too. How can I not, knowing what I deserve that I don’t get and what I get I don’t always deserve? Knowing what He did for my salvation and what He’s done for me since then, how can I keep grace and mercy only for myself?
DISCUSSION: How do you see grace and mercy working in your life? In what ways can you grow in grace and mercy.
On another note, my good friend Rick at Planned Peasanthood and I have a challenge for you to think on and respond to – either by contacting us through our blog comment areas or by email (here for me, and here for Rick). Here’s the challenge: We recently both blogged about silence as a discipline in a joint effort to thoroughly cover the topic. (My posts in the series are The Discipline of Silence, Part I and Part II, and they will lead you to Rick’s series.) The project was so enjoyable and we think beneficial in many ways, that we’d like to do something similar again. So, here’s your part. What topic would you like to see us take up next as a joint blogging project? We will pool the answers and report back what you chose for us, and then coordinate our schedule accordingly. Thank you for your input!