Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Sometimes, people anger us. We’re disappointed in their actions or take issue with their beliefs. We feel frustrated by their choices and desire accountability. We want people to explain themselves… to apologize… and to live life differently. We also want people to suffer the consequences of their decisions; we want them to feel the error of their ways. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting accountability. Nevertheless, when our actions are driven by rage or the need to be right, we can no longer act in fairness and love. As we move away from reflecting God’s mercy, we fuel the fires of destruction when we could’ve chosen compassion.
What will that cost us?
Too often, we do not ask ourselves what our actions will cost us. If we did, we’d realize we wouldn’t want to pay the price. When we make decisions that we cannot undo, the sorrow feels suffocating. There have been friendships, relationships, lives, dreams, and hopes that were lost when that did not have to be the case.
God understood, more than we could, the price of sin in our daily lives, and left us this advice in scripture as to how we should live our lives:
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.Colossians 3:12-13
God’s Tender Mercy
While all these traits are important, let’s take a moment to focus on tender mercies, because mercy is something we seek to receive but often struggle to give. When I think of God’s mercy, I think of Him holding back the punishment that we deserve: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23). The ultimate act of God’s love and His mercy was to send His son Jesus to die on the cross; He paid the price for our sins. This was a gift freely given to us, that we in turn, should share with others.
God asks us to “put on” tender mercies because this is not a character trait we naturally have within us. It’s a skill that must be developed through our relationship with Christ, and then put into practice. I know, however, that there are times where we lack the desire to be merciful. We believe by being merciful, we have signaled acceptance or taken a passive stance. Instead, I want us to recognize that we can have mercy while holding people accountable in love. We respect their ability to make choices, as we respect ourselves and God in our response.
If we believe Romans 12:19 when it reads: Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. – then we understand that there will always be justice and accountability. God has that part under control, even when we personally don’t see the outcomes. Instead, it is our spiritual responsibility to show others love, reflecting the character of God in our thoughts as well as our actions.
The Power in Mercy
Extending God’s tender mercies towards others is a pathway to joy. How so? We release the resentment, the anger, and every negative emotion that tries to make a home in our hearts. We recognize that we do not have to fix every broken situation. It is not our personal job to convert every soul – only to show them Christ in our words and our actions. Our fire for justice becomes led by the Holy Spirit, so we move as He guides us instead of leading with anger or rage. We can march forward in our journeys knowing God is leading the way, no matter how treacherous the situations may get.
Mercy also makes way for healing. It’s the gateway to forgiveness, allowing us to let go of the situations that have held us captive. We learn to have a character that is kind, humble, meek, and longsuffering. We stop taking it personal when someone does not agree with our beliefs. When we are wronged, we understand the fact that everyone has the right to make choices – and it’s up to us as to how we respond.
So, what are we going to choose?
I hope we choose to open ourselves up to new adventures and experiences. I say this because choosing to share love over anger can be a new experience when that isn’t the choice you’ve previously made. It’s a different way of living life that will feel a bit strange at first. Nevertheless, the more we practice, the easier it becomes. I also hope we choose kindness and humility, because they help to build the bridges between ourselves, others, and God.
In Matthew 7:1-2 Jesus advises us to: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” We reap what we sow (Galatians 6), and so I hope we choose God’s tender mercies. And I know… sometimes we feel as though the building needs to burn for change to take place. And that may be true – but it’s important that we let God light the match. Our mission, instead, should be one of truth and of love. So above all else, I hope we choose God. With Him abiding in our hearts, there is no choice to difficult to make and no situation too hard to overcome.Print This Post