outrageous mercy

December 19th, 2016 | Posted by

13424_a(On not hating, holding a grudge, and forgiveness.)

 

There’s a lot of “hating” going on these days. When did we all become so mean? Is there any “milk of human kindness” out there this Christmas?

 

Lately it seems the news is always about riots, shouting matches, and fights over who someone voted for. Not to mention what happens every year on Black Friday in the aisles of Walmart! With all the venting on social media, it’s too easy—with just a light touch of a button—to spread hate. According to the National Youth Violence Resource Center, an estimated 30% of American youth are either bullies or the victims of bullying. This is what can happen when it’s so easy to hide behind a computer or phone screen.

 

Real hate is out there. Not just between nations or political parties, but everywhere—even in families.

 

How do you respond when you’ve been wronged by someone? Maybe they hurt your reputation, ruined your career, sabotaged your plans . . . or said and did something really mean to your kid. Now that’s enough to bring out the claws, isn’t it? The person who does that could be my enemy for life—if I let it.

 

Somewhere in the back of my mind I hear Taylor Swift singing, “Shake it off, shake it off” and I really wish it could just be that easy.

 

Jesus dealt with haters. David and Joseph did too. How did they deal with them?

 

One word: Mercy.

 

“Then came Peter to Him, and said, ‘Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Till seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I say not unto thee until seven times: but until seventy times seven'” (Matthew 18:21 KJV).

 

It sounds outrageous, I know. That may work in a Sunday school classroom, but in the real world? It’s dog-eat-dog and you won’t survive. An eye for an eye . . . a tooth for a tooth . . . hand for hand, foot for foot . . . that seems more realistic. We are likely to think Jesus is being impractical. That’s just too hard. Crazy talk!

 

But if we don’t show mercy and forgive, we are going to have a world of blind, toothless, handless, footless people. We wouldn’t want to live in a world of unforgiveness. But still, as C.S. Lewis wrote, “Forgiveness is a lovely idea until we have someone to forgive.”

 

We may be tempted to minimize the biblical picture of forgiveness because it’s so overwhelming and outrageous. No wonder the disciples cried out to Jesus, “Lord, increase our faith!”

 

Let me just say what mercy is not:

  • Mercy is not the same as condoning wrong behavior.
  • Mercy is not passing off the offense as if it didn’t matter. It does.
  • Mercy is not the same as reconciliation. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (NKJV). Sometimes even when you have shown mercy and forgiveness, there are some who are unwilling to live at peace.

 

So what is mercy? Three Greek words are usually translated “forgive.” One word speaks of feeling an attitude of love and mercy. Another word means to let free, release, or hurl away. The last word describes cancelling an obligation or a debt. That’s the idea behind “Love keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV).

 

When I forgive someone, I choose to cancel the debt I am owed. I choose to show love and mercy by releasing them from the debt they owe for the wrong they have done.

 

It is often a painful decision to forgive. But Jesus’ words to us are not merely suggestions; they are commands. When someone wrongs us, we may have the right to demand they “pay” for what they did, but we choose to show mercy. Why? Because we have been forgiven and it is hypocrisy to expect forgiveness and not give it.

 

In daily life, we expect to be shown mercy for small and large offenses—don’t we? We expect it from our loved ones, our friends, and most of all from the Lord. How can we expect it and not be willing to extend it?

 

Jesus gave us a template for how to pray. We call it the Lord’s Prayer. Our Lord included the need to ask for—and to extend—forgiveness. Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

 

Every time you show mercy and choose to forgive someone who wrongs you, it hurts. You know why? Because you are choosing to pay the “debt” for the wrong instead of demanding that they do.

 

Let’s close with a true story about a man who chose to forgive:

“At one time I was engaged to a young woman who changed her mind. I forgave her, but in small sums over the course of a year: Whenever I saw her and refrained from bringing up the past. Done. Whenever I renounced jealousy and self-pity seeing her with another man. Done. When I praised her to others when I wanted to slander her reputation. Done. Those were the payments, but she never saw them. . . .

“Pain is a consequence of sin. There is no easy way to deal with it. Wood, nails, and pain are the currency of forgiveness, the love that heals.[i]

 

Forgiveness is always costly. Remember Jesus. Remember the cross. Remember what it cost Him as He prayed for us, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

 

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. ‘He himself bore our sins’ in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:23–24 NIV).

 

Today, let’s bring those who need our mercy before the throne of grace and pray for them. Let’s begin to forgive. Let it be said of us that we forgive well.

[i] Hamilton, Dan. Forgiveness. InterVarsity Press. 1980.




36 Comments

  1. Regenia says:

    Cathy: Thank you for this very timely word. In my heart, I have battled unforgiveness for the past, embarrassed to say, nearly 20 years, toward my ex-husband. On the outside, we are very amicable. But, in my heart, I am bitter at all the heartbreak he has brought to me and my sons. I don’t hash it out out loud, but inside I’m screaming. I choose today to bring it to the Lord, again…but today, I want to leave it there and extend mercy. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Liz says:

    This is really good , thank u I really needed to hear this, I’m the oldest of 4 siblings, and I’ve always been like thy outcast, well to make a long story short. The other day my sister said some mean things to me, and I’m just tired of them treating me this way, so I really needed to hear this, thank you

  3. Terri says:

    Such a true word of encouragement, Cathe. When I was approached harshly about my choice in this election by a non-Christian acquaintance, I felt defensive. The next time we met, I apologized to her for giving my honest opinion, when she was, in her words, “devastated”. I just fueled her fire. I should have let her vent, then prayed for a better way to express my Christ believing opinion.
    I feel good about apologizing for my part of this heated conversation. Although I’m not sorry for how I feel, or for what I believe.
    We have decided to part ways for our differences are too far apart. I will continue to pray for her, her family and for their salvation. I will reach out and pray she will accept my invitation to meet to encourage her in Christ centered ways.
    Mercy is the best word to describe this situation. She does not accept the Truth, but it doesn’t mean she never will. Extending mercy, along with prayer is my best defense. She rejects our God, not me. It’s not my fight.

  4. Shavon says:

    Thank you Cathy for the reminder about grace & forgiveness. Starting this moment I will forgive Nikeem. Jesus bless him and see him through these hard times

  5. Yvette Rubio says:

    Thank you for this wonderful article. A close friend of mine has hurt me, and I have had feelings of hatred, sadness and betrayal from my friend. I choose to forgive and show mercy towards him. Blessing for all you do :)

  6. Lisa Puckett says:

    Thank you for this message. I have a son who is incarcerated at this time, for the first time, for a she-said-he-said matter. He has been in jail 5 1/2 MONTHS and all I can do is pray pray and more prayers. I even pray for his accuser. He just had a daughter while he was in there and has only been able to see her twice. At first I asked God how can a person ruin a whole family with her lies…it was eating at me until I started praying for her and lifting her up to the Lord. There’s no hate or anger anymore. I pray the Lord draws her near. I pray for her salvation and I claim the Lord’s promises for my son. He will be exonerated. Thank you again.

  7. Jacob Cohn says:

    Thank you… I’ve been saying to alot of people lately how it’s actually really easy to forgive and forget. Just as long as one focuses on what Jesus loved/loves, forgave/forgives us, and we are commanded to follow His ways. Remembering that, conditioning the mind heart that way, makes it easy. I pray my wife turns her heart back to Him and His commands before her worldly irreconcilable differences divorce can be finalized. And I pray she has recieved your article also and it soaks in to her … thank you.

  8. Kat Jaime says:

    So blessed by this Cathe❤️Thank you so much❤️

  9. Annette Alt says:

    Absolutely the most beautifully written and thoughtful post. Thank you for your insightful words. They have touched me and trust they will touch others as well. I have some forgiving to do!

    Merry Christmas
    Annette Alt

  10. Michelle Ruiz says:

    I have learned forgiveness and to not hold grudges against anyone. It was really hard for me at first especially with holding a grudge. I have been hurt so many times in relationships and betrayed in many friendships. But now that I have been going to church so much and getting my daily devotions from Pastor Greg and also getting these messages from you I have such a different outlook on life and I have changed my life for the better.

  11. Donna Besst says:

    I think my word of the year just found me: “Mercy”
    Thank you Cathe for such s timely post. Merry Christmas to you and Pastor Greg ❤️

  12. Monica says:

    Spot on the Lords Prayer/ our prayer

  13. Marie Harlow says:

    I was one of the devastated Christians on Election Day.
    Not surprised, tho. It is not necessary to discuss this with fellow Christians nor to blame them for their actions. Another sign of the times we are living in.
    You are right, of course. Thank you.

  14. Andrea Rimmington says:

    I love this Cathy.

    I lost my mom on January the 1st this year and I blamed my dad, who insisted on taking care of her alone and isolating her from me because he was a jealous, violent and angry man.

    I was so angry at my dad, if only had let me help, but he wouldn’t and whenever I tried he would cause an argument that would upset my mom so I stayed away. We couldn’t even have a telephone conversation because he would constantly interrupt and call her names.
    My mom was my best friend and I will always feel her loss but at the same time I am joyous for her because she is now with Jesus whom she loved so much, she’s at peace.
    I sought solace through prayer and I was able to forgive my dad, it was a process but it was worth it because over the last year we have become close and letting go of all that hurt has made me a stronger and better person.

    • Marion says:

      Andrea, I praise God that you took your pain and sorrow and through prayer and supplication were able to forgive your father. My mom, also my best friend passed away 16 yrs ago. A Christian, she lived by example in a 50 yr marriage to my overbearing, angry father. She always prayed, “thy will be done”. She had such peace about her cancer, as I fell apart. The devastation and brokenness I felt after her loss brought me to Jesus. I am married to an unbelieving, overbearing, angry man who is the father of my 2 boys. Both are believers, one wants me to leave. It’s hard, it would be so easy to walk away but what example would I be for my children? As an unbeliever I made a covenant before God for better or worse. After years of studying God’s word and teaching it to my boys, I cannot loose hope that one day my husband will come to Jesus. God uses all of our pain and suffering to work together for His glory and our ultimate good. Your father is watching your example, God bless you.

  15. Ramona says:

    As I read this today, I wondered if those that harbor unforgiveness, hatred, and refuse to show mercy were the ones that would have an eye, tooth, hand, limb, etc cut off? Would the lesson be learned better by those choosing to be the victims, when they are the initiators? We always want to see justice served but miss the boat on serving it.
    Horrible to be the ones yelling “CRUCIFY HIM”, but that is in fact what we do daily as we justify our moments of not walking in God’s Grace.

    Thank you Cathe for sharing your heart and recalling us out of our comfort zones.

  16. Maria Rodriguez says:

    Thank you for this beautiful encouragement. God bless!!

  17. K. says:

    I choose to show love and mercy in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

  18. Alma says:

    Thank you Cathy for this message. I’m going through a difficult time in my life right now with a loved one. A lot of mixed feeling. I was betrayed by the one person I never imagined doing it to me. The one person that promised would never do anything to hurt me. I pray every night for guidance and to heal me from my hurt. I feel this message was intended for me to read. Thank you , thank you!

    • Roger Parsons says:

      Alma, I can tell you first hand you can get through this. I was in that same predicament and even contemplated suicide, today I am glad that I didn’t follow through. I have someone new in my life that under the circumstances I have to wonder how this happened and the I just remember that everything is possible through God. Keep your thought positive.
      Roger

  19. Meryl says:

    I love this message and your illustrations are so clear!

  20. Mary K says:

    Miss Cathy, thank you for bringing me out of my own thoughts. I’ve let myself become a victim of todays chaos and that part of me I left behind some number of years ago when I began my walk with the Lord and gave my life to him.
    I cry in shame of how I’ve acted, I’ve prayed for His forgiveness & strength to not repeat these things I have learned are wrong.
    God Bless you and Pastor Greg both.
    Merry Christmas, a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
    Hallelujah amen.

  21. Landis VanderKarr says:

    Greg should also share this article for his audience. Us men have a lot to learn about forgiveness too!

  22. Nancy H. says:

    Thank you Kathy: Wonder full topic: Forgiveness and Mercy during this Advent.

    I pray my Lord gifts me with much more willingness to forgive and be merciful especially related to an on going family issue HE is well aware of. Lord, you gave me the greatest gift the day you were born into this dark sinful world-the gift of life and salvation by YOUR forgiveness and Mercy for me. Thank You Jesus.

  23. Rhonda F Yeary says:

    Thank you Kathy for your words of Wisdom! Listening to you talk about forgiveness really touched my heart.
    I have been struggling with unforgiveness for sometime and wondering why I wasn’t seeing Blessings in my life,and tonight after reading what you wrote on forgiveness…I took it totally to heart and with conviction I forgave the 2 people in my life that took from me and forgave them of there debt to me. I love them and pray for them that God will somehow open there eyes to see Truth and to see True Love and Salvation in Jesus!

    God Bless You Kathy and Greg for all the you do in the name of our Lord and Savior!
    Thank you Jesus for your Love and Mercy!

  24. Debbie Zamora says:

    Good morning Cathe, Thank you for sending and for reminding me to forgive. I think about My Jesus when He forgave at the cross that says a lot to me My Jesus forgave so can I. I have learned something today what it means in Greek I will keep this with me. I love my daughter and set her free… I will be here when she needs me. I have asked her for forgiveness and it’s up to her I forgive her and love her so much. My Jesus forgives me I can forgive too.

    Thank you, Merry Christmas! :0)

  25. Debbie Zamora says:

    Hi Cathe, I wanted to share this last week my heater was not working and someone came to fix it and I watch Greg TV on Mondays. Bill is the person that came to fix the heater he heard the message I don’t know if he heard it all but he did hear.. He mentioned I did not curse… when he left he was a happy and showed my son how to fix the heater… God is amazing. Glory be to God Almighty! Thank you Cathe have a great day! Talk to you soon.

  26. Sandra Hall says:

    How someone treats me, is their path to walk, how I respond is my path to walk . I must focus on my response rather than the behavior of others. Perfect example is found in 1 Samuel 24, the story of David and Saul. There is no greater example then Jesus at the Cross. THE MOST POWERFUL HUMAN BEING TO WALK THE FACE OF THE EARTH BENT TO THE WILL OF THE FATHER AND DIED A CRIMINALS DEATH! FORGIVE THEM FATHER FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!!

  27. Rosie Flores says:

    I agree word for word with Annette Alt Dec. 19, 2016 at 12:31pm

    Absolutely the most beautifully written and thoughtful post. Thank you for your insightful words. They have touched me and trust they will touch others as well. I have some forgiving to do!

  28. didi olaiz says:

    Really looking forward to read this message: Outrageous Mercy. Thank You, Diane Olaiz

  29. sarai orozco says:

    Thank you Lord, and thank you Kathy for this truth!!! For this freedom, and the ability to forgive those that have hurt me! And be able to love them truly !! I give everything to God!

  30. Maria says:

    Thank you for this! I needed this today, right now. Yesterday I hurt others and I needed to read and hear how forgiveness is a sacrifice. Thank you.

  31. Denise Hays says:

    Thank you for sharing this message. I’m going through a really hard time right now and I needed to be reminded of this. I don’t want my heart to become bitter. I need to remember this message.

  32. Kathy says:

    Thanks for reminding us all to forgive. I’m always saying I will not answer for how I am treated but I will answer for how I respond. We all need to show more Grace & Mercy to those around us.

  33. G. Nicole says:

    Forgiveness-we have to realize that Jesus forgave and he wants us to do the same. It was tough for me having a friend sleep with my first husband. It broke my heart to know that she betrayed me. She is still in the picture (friends with my sister) so I have had to deal with hearing about her. My ex-husband is also in the picture, but not in the area. I learned to forgive them both through trial and error. It doesn’t mean you have to hang out with them or be near them you have to let it go and release the pain that it has caused you. I decided through the help of God to let it go, believe me it was tough, but I didn’t want it to harm me anymore. My sister doesn’t mention her name and that helps, my sister thinks differently I have no control over it. My ex-husband is forgiven also because I have a son with him and I will never harm my son ever by saying anything wrong about his biological father. My second husband adopted him. Married 43 years to him! Forgive its much better for you.

  34. jo says:

    Thankyou cathe, this is just what I needed to hear and understand what forgiveness looks like and acts like. My mom died 3 days before christmas this year and it brought one of my brothers back into my life, and some very hurtful things have been said to me by him and ive been struggling to forgive him.

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