Holding on to our resentments does less to the person we are angry with and more to hurt ourselves. Learning to release the person who offended us from our hate list may take real effort on our part, especially if they have been on the list for some time. Did you know that resentment is just another word for jealous? Did you know that mercy is the greatest gift you can offer another and yourself at the same time?
Offering mercy may take a deliberate effort on your part. It means offering forgiveness and meaning it. It means treating the other person with God’s love when your love isn’t there. It means being kind and treating the other person with understanding that we too are not perfect and we may have some responsibility for the situation. It means being compassionate when they hurt instead of laughing. And it does mean celebrating when good things come their way, even when we would like to think the good fortune should be ours. Mercy is sincere—it can’t be faked because above all, mercy means that we pray for all things God would have in their lives. We especially pray that they know the Lord and are transformed by his love and mercy. We ask that we too are transformed as we pray for them.
My daughter is one the greatest examples of a mercy-giver that I know. Even as a teenager she could find a way to forgive or overlook a person’s misdeeds toward her. She always seems to take the high road in relationships and give it one—or seven times seven— more chances. I have seen her rekindle relationships that I would never have gone back to and I have seen her grow more as she let go of her resentment. I have seen the freedom that comes from her mercy. She is the kid whose friends turned away from her when she wouldn’t go down the path they were heading, and still she managed to re-establish friendships with some of those people years later because she was willing to let the past be in the past. Like many young women, she has been hurt in relationships, and yet she has found a way to forgive and accept rich friendships on new terms. She has even shown her old mom mercy from time to time, understanding that I make mistakes and sometimes my problems have caused rather uncomfortable circumstances for us. She keeps moving forward and she inspires me to be all those things Jesus told us to be. She is one of the best examples I have of living a life in the image of Jesus.
As we ask for God’s mercy when we are in distress or have acted in a way that does not honor him, let us ask that he show us to whom we need to extend the same kind of mercy. We ask that he change our hearts and save us from carrying a burning coal that eats through our own heart. We ask for all things good for those we resent or envy and that we can be happy for their success. We ask to see them as God does, knowing he loves them. We ask that he inspire us to get on a path that takes us forward and frees us of the burden of disdain we carry.
Do you have a way you approach others with mercy? Do you have a success story of a time you gave or received mercy? I would love to hear your story. Please share it in the comments below.
“Turn to me and have mercy on me, for I am alone and in deep distress.” Psalm 25:16