A couple of years ago, I was at the airport ready to fly back to London after ministering at a major women’s conference in the Middle East.
As I was standing in line at the airport check-in desk, a member of staff became agitated and started to shout at one of his colleagues. I had never before seen such an inappropriate outburst in front of customers.
The manager tried her best to calm the situation but it took quite some time for the man to stop yelling. Of course, the antics resulted in unnecessary delays and lots of complaints.
I was weary and wanted to get home. By the time I reached the front of the line, the manager looked anxious. It was my turn to vocalise my frustration. At last I would be able to give the supervisor a piece of my mind.
However, I knew I had to be kind. When the lady in charge apologised nervously, I smiled warmly and told her she was doing a wonderful job. She beamed back at me and responded: “Thank you Pastor Jo. I watched the service last night on TV and received so much!”
I gulped. My flesh had wanted to tear her to pieces! What impression would she have had of the ministry if I had been rude or harsh? I walked away feeling very relieved.
We always have a choice. We can be indignant about our rights or we can show mercy. We learn from the famous passage in 1 Corinthians 13 that the first two attributes of love are patience and kindness.
When we choose to be kind, we are walking in love. When we are patient with people, we are demonstrating God’s nature.
Although judgement feels good to the flesh, it saps our strength and makes us irritated and agitated. Mercy, in contrast, protects our peace and produces joy within.
The Bible says that when we judge others, we open the door to being judged ourselves: “Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2
There are not many occasions in scripture when God says that if we withhold something, He will too. For example, the Bible says that when we are faithless, He remains faithful.
However, there is something about setting ourselves up as critic of a fellow human being that repels The Lord. If we judge, we will inevitably be judged in return.
I depend on the marvellous mercy of God. I need His mercy to cover my many mistakes and His favour to shine on me despite my shortcomings.
I covet the generosity of heart and goodwill of my family and friends. When I fail or slip up (as I often do) I seek their understanding and forgiveness.
I need my husband to let me off when I get a parking fine. I want my children to show mercy when I’m short-tempered. I look to my team to be gracious when I get things wrong.
Practice makes perfect
To receive mercy, you and I need to show mercy to other people. The more we work at something, the better we become. Why not make a decision today to practice mercy. You will be setting yourself up to receive it just when you need it most.
If you want God to do a work on the inside, get hold of our books or come along to Healed for Life. The more we are free from inner hurts and frustrations, the easier it is to be good to others.