The Uncomfortable Gift of Mercy
Gifts that Hurt
Have you ever received a gift that hurt?
Maybe you’ve received a diet plan, a gym membership, or breath mints. Usually when we open gifts we’re hoping that they’re things we want, not necessarily what we need. When someone does gift us with something we need, our natural response is one of anger towards that person.
The Gift of Mercy
We’re told in James 1:17 that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” We, as naturally disobedient children, don’t deserve those gifts. However, God has grace for us. That’s what the gospel accomplished and what it’s all about. In and through Jesus Christ, grace is poured out.
One of the gifts we receive from the Father is mercy. One could define mercy as withholding what one deserves. Certainly, the fact that you’re alive and reading this right now is a result of God’s gift of mercy on your life.
Now the question is: is mercy a gift we want or need?
In regards to gifts we enjoy on earth, they’re always something we want or both something we want and need. In regards to mercy, it’s swapped. Mercy is always going to be something we need, yet sometimes both needed and wanted.
I want to remind us, as Christians, that not every gift of mercy in our lives will be something we want.
Lingering Lot & Mandatory Mercy
Remember the story of Lot and his family in Genesis? Lot took his wife and two daughters to Sodom, an incredibly wicked city. God’s plan, revealed to Abraham (Lot’s uncle), was to destroy Sodom. But through the prayer of Abraham, God saved Lot and his family. How did he do this?
God sent two angels (disguised as men) into the city to bring Lot and his family out. After a dramatic encounter with the city’s lust and greed, the two angels urgently told Lot to grab his family and flee. But, we’re told, Lot “lingered.” What happens next?
“So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD showing mercy to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.” (Genesis 19:16)
Notice how God’s gift of mercy is presented here: in seizing Lot and his family, and (most likely forcefully) leading them out of the city. Do you think Lot was comfortable with this? What about his wife? How do you think she felt with two strangers pulling her two girls outside the city?
Mercy doesn’t always look like what we want, but it’s always what we need.
What About You?
Maybe you can sense an uncomfortable prompting in your life right now. Take time to consider whether this is God’s gift of mercy. Pray. Wait. Be still. Open and read the Word. Remember, the result of God’s mercy won’t always be immediate, but it’s always what we need.
Don’t be lingering like Lot, trying to distract yourself with the ‘comfortable.’ Follow Him. If, like Lot, you do linger, don’t be upset when you’re seized. Why? That’s God’s gift of mercy.