Have Mercy!

Catch Encouraging Your Husband to Leadtoday on Revive Our Hearts for a very practical discussion about the ways wives can encourage strength and leadership in their husbands.

Inspired by a great series written by True Woman’s own Paula Hendricks on the beatitudes for the Lies Young Women Believe blog, I’ve been studying Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 5 for several weeks. (What can I say; I’m a bit of a slow learner!) Last week, my studies took me to Matthew 5:7,

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

It is perhaps one of the simplest formulas in all of Scripture. If we show mercy, we get mercy. Easy as that. Mercy means to show compassion to; to bear with; to be lenient toward. I certainly want God to show compassion toward me and to be lenient toward my sin (even though I deserve punishment). Jesus makes it clear that if I want mercy, I better make a habit of dishing it out.

We all like to think of ourselves as merciful, but I had a hunch Jesus didn’t include this statement to make a rhetorical point. Maybe I needed the reminder to practice showing mercy.

With that thought in mind, I decided to ask the Lord who I was not being merciful to. The answer came into my heart in a single beat.

“Your husband.”

Come again, Lord?

“You are not merciful to your husband.”

As I mulled it over, I realized God was right (of course). I am so quick to point out my husband’s shortcomings, so eager to talk to Jason about what he has done wrong. It is so rare for me to offer him slack or to be forbearing toward those habits which I find annoying or frustrating.

Here’s a simple example. In our house, taking out the trash is Jason’s job. He has a little habit of waiting until not another sliver of paper can fit into the can. I could ignore his choice to let the trash overflow. I could take the trash out myself. I could kindly say something like, “Honey, could you please take the trash out?”

But I rarely do. I huff and puff and mention that the trash is overflowing again and that I had to remind him again.

My expressed annoyance may get the trash removed, but it doesn’t demonstrate mercy. Instead, I show my tendency to want to pounce on everything I think my man is doing wrong.

Any wives out there thinking of their own overflowing trash cans right about now? Or the fact that you point it out every single time he comes home a little late for dinner?

Maybe it’s your children you aren’t merciful toward. Do you take every opportunity to point out what they’ve done wrong? Are you quick to remind them of messy rooms or backpacks off the hook, or do you default to loving leniency?

How about your co-workers? Do they have the freedom to mess up, or do you look for reasons to pin them to the wall?

Jesus’ words are a simple formula for all our relationships and interactions. If we want to receive mercy (and we do!) for the many times we miss the mark, fall short, or screw up, we must make a practice of showing mercy to those around us. Even when they make the same mistakes over and over again.

So, let me encourage you to pray the same prayer I prayed after reading Matthew 5:7.

“Jesus, who am I not showing mercy to?”

Listen. And ask Him to give you the strength to extend mercy more often.