Missteps and Mercy
February 15, 2008 by hsaxton
These past few days a series of events have led me think about the human tendency to make mistakes that require us to extend grace and mercy to others, just as God extends that grace and mercy to us when we deliberately choose sin. The primary difference is intentionality:
The thoughtless action (or omission)
The unintended offense
The hastily spoken (and poorly chosen) word
While these things do wound and grieve other people, we tend to gloss them over with, “But that’s not what I MEANT! That’s not what I INTENDED!”
Nevertheless, these “slips” do contain destructive seeds, capable of wounding and alienating those we hold dear.
This week I’ve found myself on both sides of the banana peel. I sent an impulsive “Valentine” to a few friends, which a chance comment from my sister made me realize that it might have struck some as suggestive. I saw it as a playful romp down memory lane … then, after the fact, realized that it might have struck some as simply … TMI. Oops.
Yesterday was especially hard. Two people, in the span of an hour, had me in tears because what I had needed from them and what I received were so completely and unexpectedly different. (I probably could have handled one, but not both.) In the first instance, I felt additional salt rubbed into the wound when this person turned the tables and informed me that it was I, not her, who needed to apologize. (I did, but later I felt so manipulated that I just got angry.)
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive
those who trespass against us.”
The thing about trespasses is … well, you don’t always realize when you’ve invaded someone else’s space, do you? And yet the offense is no less real for this lack of intention. What a great opportunity, then, for us to show mercy and do what we can to mend that breach.
- Sometimes, that means letting something go, for the sake of the relationship.
- Sometimes, it means giving the other person the benefit of the doubt.
- Sometimes, it means adjusting the nature of the relationship itself.
Lord Jesus, thank you that when you came to earth to show us the way to heaven, you never held anything back. You gave everything you had, even life itself, to remind us of the Father’s mercy. Help us to imitate our Heavenly Father in a more intentional way, this day and every day. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen!