Mercy is at the heart of forgiveness and grace. The dictionary definition reads “kindness or forgiveness shown especially to somebody a person has power over.” The Jesus Prayer asks for mercy. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.” The phrase “Have mercy!” is one used in a number of ways, some having nothing to do with Jesus or mercy. Mercy is something I say lightly even when praying until I stop long enough to take in what it means in regard to my relationship with God and others. Having mercy shows others the difference Christ makes in my life and is essential if I am to be the witness He desires for me to be.
God has power over me and over all in existence, yet He choses to be merciful. When I pray the Jesus prayer, I am humbled in a way that makes me want to be merciful. I have to think about those I have power over when I think of mercy. I’m not in a position that gives me power, but like everyone, there are those in my path who afford me the opportunity to show mercy. When I’m with my grand daughters, I can be merciful and show grace. When someone is waiting on me in a restaurant or a shop, I can be merciful. When I’m teaching, I can show mercy. I can also show mercy to someone who has mistreated me or been unkind to me. I have the right to retaliate, but if I chose to forgive and be kind, I take the opportunity to show mercy.
Showing mercy brings me closer to God who is the source of all mercy. When I pray the Jesus prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner,” I add the phrase “and please help me to be merciful to those in my path.” Knowing what mercy is and praying for mercy is only the beginning. I have to have mercy, or the prayer is empty and the word useless. The same goes for grace and forgiveness. As I extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness, I draw nearer to God and to those in my path. I am to learn only one thing during this brief little blink of life in the midst of my eternal journey, and that is love. I am here to learn to say to God, to myself, and to those in my path, “I love you” and show I know what that phrase means in the way I live out my life here on earth.
Love, peace, grace, forgiveness, and mercy are words easily spoken. Unfortunately, living out the concepts they represent is much more difficult than uttering the words. I pray I will live out love, peace, grace, forgiveness, and mercy in my life as Christ taught. I am human and know I will fall short of the lofty goal, but I will come a lot closer if I make it my aim to show them to others instead of simply sitting back and asking God to show them to me.