Jen’s Gem: Want mercy? Give mercy.
I recently purchased a few copies of my book, Finding God. Finding Me. to have on hand for future speaking engagements. As I perused the book, I fell upon a page and started to read the first few paragraphs. All was good until…My eyes spotted a typo. There it was in black and white staring at me with a judgement so fierce, I needed a moment.
As you know, I write this blog early Sunday morning. I read it over and over, sifting through the words to make sure there are no typos or poorly-phrased sentences. I hit send and off it goes to your inbox and mine so that I can forward it to others who ask about it. I review it again when it hits my email and when I find a mistake, my whole body cringes. It’s like kryptonite to Superman.
I don’t like typos. As a professional writer, typos should not be part of my repertoire. However, as a human being, typos and other missteps are to be expected, yes? We are not exempt from making mistakes from time to time. We might not always be able to control when these hiccups occur, but we can control our reaction to them.
Our next steps after we make a mistake will determine if we will maintain our peace and joy or head down the rabbit hole of self-incrimination. (A piece of advice: The sooner you take action to steer clear of “rabbit hole land,” the better!)
Peace comes when we can laugh at ourselves. An “Oh well” attitude is much better than an “Oh rats” attitude. If I’m not careful, I can easily march into the “Oh rats” camp, so I have to be super diligent about those initial reactions and not let negative behaviors or worse, negative words take root.
To avoid a visit to the bunny trap, what if we treated ourselves the way Jesus would treat us? What if we did what Jesus did when He faced people who had made some whopper mistakes? For example, the woman caught in adultery and facing death by stoning. Let’s look at what Jesus said to her:
“Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11 NKJV)
Notice what Jesus didn’t say. He didn’t say “Yeesh woman! Do you not know that adultery is a death sentence?” He didn’t roll His eyes and say, “What’s the matter with you?” He didn’t throw up His hands and say “Really woman? Really? Again?”
But do we say these things to ourselves? Others? Hmmm…I fall into the “Really, Jen? Really? Again?” camp when I repeat a behavior that’s not welcome.
Let’s look at what Jesus did say: “I don’t condemn you.” Wow, that’s pretty amazing, don’t you think? Yet, if we know
the purpose of Jesus ministry on earth, this statement should not come as a surprise to us at all as it says in John 3:17:
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (NKJV)
That woman’s life was transformed because of Jesus not condemning her. A few amazingly brilliant words to her accusers made them all drop their stones and go home, questioning their own behaviors and actions.
“So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (John 8:7 NKJV)
You see those people were trying to trip Jesus up. They were hoping to find some fault in Him, because adultery was a major break in the Law, The Ten Commandments. Instead, Jesus turned the tables on them and in doing so, cut this woman some major slack. He had mercy on her. He forgave her. He showed His unconditional love for her by not rubbing her mistakes in her face.
Now – before you think that Jesus overlooked what she was doing, re-read that verse. He said “go and sin no more.” He told her how to live her best life. Don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again. When you know better, you do better, yes?
God’s forgiveness and mercy are new each day for all of us. This isn’t a license to live like a cray cray person, but isn’t it nice to know that if we do mess up, God will forgive us when we ask for it. He wants to restore the relationship and relationships can only be restored with forgiveness.
Shouldn’t we do the same with ourselves? With others? We’re all in this world together. No one’s perfect. We’re all messing up every day. We’re all being unkind and impatient. We’re all judging someone else about something.
We’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to face challenges. John 16:33 tells us this plainly. However, it also tells us what to do about those trials: be happy.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (NKJV)
We can be happy because God’s forgiveness is always available. God’s helpline is open 24/7/365. God’s mercies are new every single day of our lives.
So, the next time you or someone you love makes a mistake, be of good cheer! Think about what Jesus would do. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Rinse and repeat for a peace-filled life..