People Are Evil But Mercy Can't Lose ~ BitterSweetLife

Saturday, September 01, 2007

People Are Evil But Mercy Can't Lose

I used to think of mercy as the province of losers. Mercy was the guy who became a monk because he wasn't very good with the ladies and he always lost when he wrestled with his buddies and who spent the rest of his life wearing itchy clothing and weeding the herb garden while getting walked on by everyone (for Jesus). Mercy was OK if that's what you had left to work with.

But the person who fails to show mercy is effectively stealing the vengeance of God.

If I try to give someone their rightful comeuppance, I'm walking on God's turf. But if I forgive those who offend me in a way similar to the way Christ forgave me, then not only am I leaving vengeance in the hands of the One who owns it--I'm also earning a reward that only the merciful can receive. "Blessed are the merciful," said Jesus. "For they will be shown mercy" (Matthew 5:7).

I am surely in great need of God's mercy. So I had better not be too quick to throw stones or break knee caps, even if such actions could be successfully justified.

Earlier this week, we had our car stolen out of the parking lot behind our apartment building. Apparently there has been a rash of Honda thefts in the KC area recently, and we got bit. Long story short: our car was stolen, cleaned out, vandalized, wrecked, and abandoned in KC, Kansas. The items stolen: three and a half pairs of shoes (the perps left one of my basketball kicks), a handful of CDs, two car seats, some baby toys, and a baby book.

After insurance kicks in, we'll be about $500 in the hole, which is a lot for us to cover out of pocket, but what really gets me is is the stolen items. One used shoe. Toys. A baby book. A baby book. Are you freaking kidding me?

If you needed confirmation that people are more than merely evil, here's one kind of proof.

One thing I had to confront when we got details about our car being found was my own reaction: Seething, I-would-like-to-take-a-bat-to-you, anger. The facts of the theft and vandalism were disturbing, but my own rage was also disturbing. It drove me back to Jesus and his incarnate mercy.

Because God is on the throne, the one who shows mercy is not a victim without recourse. God says he has justice taken care of--and we need to know that. Knowing it frees us up to be liberal with our forgiveness, knowing that Christ-like-ness has better rewards than revenge. If I found the guy(s) who stole our Honda and took Aidan's book, would I resist the temptation to fight them? At the very least, I would think twice about it. "Vengeance is mine," says God. "And blessed are those who don't stumble over me," says Jesus.

It would be better to let stupid perps walk than to stumble over Jesus by picking a fight to fulfill a personal vendetta. When personal grievance is pitted against God's dibs on justice, the odds are not so good.

Mercy, on the other hand, literally can't lose.

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Jamie said...

Wow, that's really rough. Sorry for your loss--I can't imagine having my car stolen. Kudos to you for using it as an opportunity to sharpen your understanding of mercy. I'm sure that's not an easy thing in your shoes right now.

Timothy Goering said...

"Mercy was the guy who became a monk because he wasn't very good with the ladies..."
Sweet stuff!

Sorry to hear about the car and especially about the shoe! Hope everything is working out well for you and the family.

Will Robison said...

You know, this post reminded me of the fact that my car was broken into one Palm Sunday while I was in church and several items were stolen. It left me about $150 in the hole as I had to replace a broken window. But other than that, I quietly accepted the situation and prayed that the people who felt the need to steal needed the items more than I did and weren't just doing it for kicks or drugs or something. I think mercy and forgiveness are two qualities that are hard to obtain, but that in the end help us more than they help those receiving such mercy or forgiveness. Forgiving helps us to forget and to move on with our lives as if something bad has never happened.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife