Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Rich Fruit of Mercy

Abe Lincoln read the Bible cover to cover many times. Why do we wonder at his wisdom? 
Gratitude Year 4 - Day 119: Today, I am grateful for mercy.

"I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice. - Abraham Lincoln

What an interesting observation and piece of wisdom. Lincoln proved he believed this time and time again. His life was far from easy, but he kept pressing on. He couldn't make everything right, but he did his best to lead, teach and guide where he could. Our nation was a mess - and he answered the call to be our leader. He attempted to lead with grace and mercy as he walked humbly with our Lord. He knew the value of greeting and meeting God in daily prayer. 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
   his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. -Lamentations 3:22-23

My "Ear Worm" is awake and singing this morning. It is the old hymn, "Great is thy Faithfulness"  Silly Ear Worm forgets that hymns are not my favorite, but there are times I think he is determined to change my stand. There is rich theology in their artful verse. They are a balm to the soul when tired, wounded or weary. There are often taken straight from scripture (in the KJV, of course).

Mercy.  Oh, how I love to receive it. Do I find equal joy in dispensing it to others?  I should. My Jesus does. 

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God." -Micah 6:8 (NIV)

Seriously, this verse should be read out loud by James Earl Jones' voice every single day at moment I open my eyes. Maybe, then, I would remember to live it out. What a great verse. What a challenging on, too. 

The hard hand of justice must be dispensed - as God's character does not change and demands it. But, to balance out justice with mercy is required.  How do we figure put that complex balance? I think it is answered in the same verse. "To walk humbly with your God." Seek to be like Jesus in the morning, afternoon and night and submit to the Holy Spirit's leading. 

Sounds easy. Right? And perhaps it would be except for one big variable.  Other people. One unkind word. One person who fails to use the four-way- stop the correct way. One step on our heart by another...intentional or accidental...and we want justice so much more than mercy. 

How quickly I forget all the wrongs I've been forgiven when I am the one dispensing mercy over justice. Firstborns and other rule lovers...I think it is harder for us sometimes. Rules and order keep make us feel safe. 

 "All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us,God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." -Ephesians 2:3-5 

To intentionally live with grace and mercy adds good life to our days.We must not forget His ways and his rules...but we cannot be like Him and not be rich in mercy. 

Lincoln bravely extended mercy where he could. It was unpopular at times. Still, he repeated the behavior often enough to see that mercy did...indeed...bear rich fruit. Worth the risk. 

I am grateful for mercies received from His hand and from others. Undeserved and unexpected. It is soul piercing. It clears our vision so we can see His face more clearly. 

Today, I am grateful for mercy.

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