Thursday, May 16, 2013

More Wisdom: Am I Being Merciful? (Part 6)

This is the sixth in a series on dealing with the people who make you crazy. For the rest, you can start with the first one Six Questions for Any Relationship.

Last time I dealt with the question Am I Being Open to Reason? The question naturally leads into this next question from James 3:17, Am I being merciful? Once again the Book of James puts it clearly and succinctly: “It (the wisdom from above) is full of mercy and good fruit.”  Being open to reason leads to being merciful, because it requires you to listen and listen well past and through the desire we all have to make our own case, to convince the others that we are right and they are wrong. Being open to reason allows us to grasp the hurt that is often being expressed by the other. And when we grasp that, then our hearts are impacted.

One thing I want you to see is that being merciful can start with yourself. Have you ever forgotten something that you needed, had to backtrack a distance to get it, and the whole way you’re beating the heck out of yourself? “Michael, you’re so stupid! You forgot your phone, again! You idiot!” If it had been anyone else in my life, I wouldn't have responded that way. Are we merciful with ourselves? Being merciful with ourselves opens the door to being merciful with others.

Mercy is showing some grace when people mess up, because quite honestly we want grace when we mess up. Mercy includes forgiveness. Acting generously toward someone. Giving to others the benefit of the doubt first. Mercy would include not emphasizing a person’s mistakes. Or having a history lesson every time there’s an argument. In the verse from James mercy and good fruit are linked together, perhaps because good will always come from being merciful.

Mercy also flows from one who is impartial and sincere. These two words are very similar. In the Greek theater the actor would play a role, then leave the stage and come back on with a different mask. So, he was one actor who played many roles. It’s where we get the word hypocrite from – many masks, many roles. The word impartial and sincere is the opposite of that. So what James is saying here is that you are the real deal. There’s no mask, no pretense, no hidden agenda, no deceit, no “I’m okay” when I’m really not. There’s authenticity, openness and genuine expressions of the heart.

When you think about it, you can't lose by being merciful. It ultimately leads to the better part of yourself and the other person in your life. And the fruit is always good.