No place needs mercy more than home. Because we are 24/7 in contact with each other, and we have to daily do life, all the nitty-gritty aspects of life, every day there are multiple opportunities for mess-ups, mistakes, and misunderstanding. That means there are many opportunities for mercy. Giving and receiving mercy are some of the most important glues that hold relationships together.
We all need mercy. We all blow it. We all desperately need help getting back on track. The only hope for life is to give and receive help getting it back together. A family or friendship requires fellowship. That sounds like a churchy word because that is where it is usually heard. But fellowship actually means a relationship of community, sharing, and mutual care. All successful relationships require it.
Hurts happen regularly. Some are unintentional, and some are deliberate. But however they happen, forgiveness is essential to fellowship. Bitterness and resentment grow without forgiveness, and they choke the life out of fellowship. Fellowship requires mega doses of mercy and grace to thrive.
The message of God’s Word is clear: “You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13 NLT). That’s mercy. The mercy God shows to us is the motivation for us to show mercy to others. And it’s not optional; it is required.
I have seen it, and you have, too. A home without mercy raises hopeless children, and puts a marriage in despair. The lack of mercy is devastating. Paul instructs us, When people sin (mess up, blow it, frustrate you, make life difficult) you should forgive and comfort them, so they won’t give up in despair (2 Corinthians 2:7 CEV). Every time I am hurt, offended, or mistreated, I have a choice to make. Will I retaliate, or will I restore and resolve the situation with mercy? You have to make a deliberate and willing choice. You can’t restore and retaliate at the same time.
Sometimes we have a hard time doing this because we think that mercy and forgiveness require trust. We feel we can’t show mercy until we can trust again. If that is our perspective, we will never show mercy. Actually, these are two very different things. Forgiveness is about the past. Trust is about the future. Trust requires a track record. It has to occur over time.
But in a moment I can decide to not retaliate, and instead, forgive and show mercy. That opens the door for trust to eventually be restored, and full reconciliation to take place. When I show mercy through forgiveness, the other person may respond with relief and gratitude and go on to make great use of the mercy. When that happens, mercy is enabled to do its perfect work. Many of us can testify that our happy homes, our magnificent marriages, are the ones that mercy built.