“…Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (James 2:13)
There it is; the scripture that explains it all. It takes the gospel and spells it out in four words…”Mercy triumphs over judgment!” It’s not a long verse. It’s very small but it packs a punch. It takes the Old Testament law and marries it with the New Testament message and spells gospel. It’s a word picture of Jesus and His gracious sacrifice. Simply amazing!
So, I have run into this scripture several times this week. I am reading What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancy. I don’t know why I think I can read a book and just get head knowledge. Every single time I read something, it changes me…or at least God tries. It makes me think. It convicts me. It makes me have a desire to be better. I desire, in my heart of hearts, to be Christ-like. And in my quest for Jesus, I realize that I am nothing like Him. I am reminded daily that it is not about me, it is about Him. I am reminded that in my weakness, He is my strength. I am reminded each and every day that without Him, I am nothing. And so the quest continues. All week I have been reminded and reminded that “Mercy triumphs over judgment!”
I have struggled this week with anger. I am angry about certain situations and people I have no power over. I cannot change the people I am angry at. I cannot change the situation that frustrates me. And so, for a couple of weeks I have lived in anger. The scripture that I have lived by is “Be angry, yet do not sin.” Hmmm. I wonder if the enemy was whispering that into my ear. I wonder if, just as he did to Jesus, Satan was quoting scripture to me. My anger did not become sin per say. However, living in that anger is stifling. It has caused me to think of nothing else. It has caused me to be unforgiving. It has caused me to look at each and every situation from the point of anger.
I find it interesting how subtle the enemy is. And I see him for what he is…a liar. But I also see that this scripture applies to me. God, in His gentle way showed me this scripture in three different places on three different days. Until today, I didn’t get it. I was hanging on to my anger. I was hanging on to my pain. I was hanging on to judgment. Oh sure, what was done and what is being done, is wrong. But, honestly, I have no control over it. I have no control over the actions of others. I have no control over the outcome of the bad choices others make. The only thing I have control over is me. And so, today God reminded me to forgive.
I had to forgive those I was angry at. I don’t have to approve of what they did. I don’t even have to resume a relationship. But what I have to do is forgive and let God do the healing. This morning, before I read anything, I forgave. And when I picked up my book I read…”I once heard an immigrant rabbi make an astonishing statement. ‘Before coming to America, I had to forgive Adolf Hitler,’ he said. ‘I did not want to bring Hitler inside me to my new country.'” Wow! The more we hang onto unforgiveness, the more we carry them with us. By carrying that anger, we carry the offender in our hearts. I thought this was so profound. The enemy is after our hearts. If he can’t get us by enticing us to be devoted to evil, he will take that which we have loved and turn it into something that will eat away at us. He is crafty.
Today, I chose to forgive. I may have to do the same tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. But I know that since God has shown me mercy and forgiven me, I can do nothing less. I don’t approve of their actions. I don’t agree with their lifestyles. I don’t have to pursue a relationship with them. What I have to do, is forgive and let God heal. He will show me the next step. But for now, I will live in forgiveness instead of anger.