Monday

Erring on the Side of Mercy

I saw the movement out of the corner of my eye early one morning. Oh no, I thought, not another one. It’s getting colder here in South Carolina, and critters of all types have been finding their way into my house when my back is turned.

Last week it was a bright green anole lizard. Today it was what my daughter affectionately nicknamed, “that mutant-grasshopper-thing.” One blogger describes it as “a giant bug that looks like its mother was a spider and its father was a cricket.” Instead of crawling, however, which would be bad enough, these long-legged insects hop.

Definitely NOT what I wanted to see before I’d downed my first cup of tea. 

I was tempted to smack it with the sole of my bedroom slipper and be done with it. Instead, I reached for a solo cup. With one swoop, I plopped the cup over my long-legged trespasser. I waited a moment for my heart rate to return to normal. (The thrill of the chase and the deep-seated fear that the creature might jump at the last moment and land on me always leaves me with a bit of an adrenaline rush.) 

After sliding a piece of paper between the cup and the floor, I gingerly lifted the cup and the creature and headed for the door. With a move that would have made Houdini proud, I whisked the paper away from the cup and flung my captive to the wind. “Be free,” I said, “. . . and don’t come back.” 

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always so merciful. Cockroaches and flies fall into the category of the damned at my house. Kill or Be Killed is my motto when I encounter one of these creatures. Whenever I can, however, I show mercy.

This morning, after returning to my interrupted cup of Raspberry Zinger, I thought about the gift of mercy. Theologians and lay people alike define it as “not getting the punishment we deserve.”

Like my six-legged trespasser, I’ve often been the blessed recipient of God’s mercy. When I accepted Christ as my Savior, he expunged the sin that separated us and welcomed me into his family. Every day, Lamentations 3:23 tells me, his mercies toward me are new.

Sometimes he extends mercy through my friends and family. My husband forgives me (again) for being selfish and self-centered. My friend graciously accepts my apology for forgetting her birthday. My children love me anyway, despite decades of parental mistakes and oversights.

Despite being the grateful recipient of God’s never-ending mercy, however, I’m not always quick to show mercy toward others. Sometimes, instead of giving someone a second (or third, or fourth) chance, I smack ‘em. “You never . . .” and “You always . . .” rush from my mouth. Other times I mentally write them off. I forget that they’re on a faith journey just like I am. Some days we get it right, and other times, we need mercy, forgiveness, and another chance.


“Whenever possible,” a wise theologian once said, “we should err on the side of mercy.”

I don’t know if I’m the only one who struggles to extend mercy, but I suspect not. If you are similarly challenged, will you join me in asking God to help us? 

Father, help me be gracious today. Enable me see others the way you see me—flawed and imperfect, but still worth loving. Remind me every day of the magnitude of your mercies. Help me see your grace in my life and extend it to others. Use me as an example of your love to a lost and dying world, remembering that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Whenever possible help me err on the side of mercy.

*If you’d like to see a picture of a Spider Cricket, also known as a Camel Cricket or “Spriket,” click the hyperlink above.

JUST IN TIME FOR CYBER MONDAY:

I love the newly-designed, glossy cover!

I suspect there are quite a few busy women on your Christmas list. Friends, co-workers, fellow church members, and your children's teachers, coaches, and babysitters, just to name a few. If you'd like to give them a gift that will draw them closer to the Lord, encourage them to spend time in God's Word, and think biblically, Hungry for God ... Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is the gift you're looking for. 

And what about those special women in your life that may not have a relationship with the Lord? In the last devotion in the book, I share what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Giving someone you care about a copy of HFG is not just passing along spiritual encouragement, it's a gentle, winsome way to share the gospel.

Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time is available through Amazon.com,BarnesandNoble.com, and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

If you live in the Columbia, South Carolina area, I'd love to autograph and personalize copies for your special friends. Email me at LoriAHatcher@gmail.com.

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