October 22, 2004
Encouragement for Today

"What About Mercy?"
Melissa Taylor, Proverbs 31 Speaking Team

Key Verse:

 "...the Lord is full of compassion and mercy."  James 5:11b (NIV)


Devotion:

Our family loves the Veggie Tale Movie, Jonah.  As you may know, it is based on the biblical story of Jonah, the prophet, found in the Old Testament.  The theme of the movie, as well as the book in the Bible, is that God is indeed compassionate and full of mercy and grace.  No one is beyond redemption, no matter what they've done.

After watching the movie (for the 216th time!), we had a family discussion about compassion and mercy.  In the movie, one of the cute little veggies explains that mercy is forgiving someone - even when they don't deserve it and giving them a second chance.  There's a great song in the movie about God being a "God of second chances".  

One evening after supper, my husband instructed our four kids to clean up their toys.  It was just one of those cluttered days, when everything seemed out of place. I wasn't feeling well and went to bed early, but I could clearly hear all that was going on outside my bedroom.  Obviously, the kids weren't cooperating with their daddy and his voice was getting louder and louder with each command.  I could hear the frustration in his voice when at last he'd had enough.  "If these toys aren't picked up in the next minute, they are going in the trash!"  Now, if you are a parent, you know if you say it, you have to do it.  I heard my husband walking around putting displaced toys in his bag.  I also heard the loud wail of my son, Dylan.

"No Daddy!!!!!!  Pleeeeeeeease!!!!!!  Don't throw away my toys!  No! No! No!"  If I hadn't heard what was happening all along, I would've thought the boy was dying!  My very frustrated husband said, "Dylan, go to your room!  I do not want to hear you crying and carrying on!"  Dylan turned to walk away, and then paused.  "Daddy, I'm sorry," he said. Of course, my husband, being the forgiving man that he is, responded with "Dylan, I forgive you.  Now go on to your room." 

Well, Dylan wasn't finished.  He said, "Daddy, can I have my toys back?"  My husband, not budging one bit, sternly said, "No."  Dylan began to scream and cry again.  What I heard next made me laugh out loud!  Dylan said, "What about mercy, Daddy?"

I thought to myself, "Good one, Dylan!  I bet you got him with that one." 

Oh no, he didn't.  Using something biblical just made my normally very sweet husband very angry.  He said, "Mercy?  I'll tell you about mercy.  Mercy teaches you not to pick up your toys.  Mercy teaches you not to obey your parents.  You will be getting no mercy from me tonight."

I tell this story, not to make my husband look bad.  He's the best father I've ever seen.  I tell it, not to show how my sweet son Dylan can sometimes pitch a temper tantrum.  I tell this story because, as humans, we don't always give second chances and grant mercy right away.  When we've had a hard day or have to deal with difficult people, we sometimes just blow up!

Jonah didn't understand why God would give the people of Ninevah mercy and compassion.  God told Jonah to go there and call the people to repentance.  Jonah didn't think they deserved it.  Maybe they didn't in the eyes of Jonah, but they did in the eyes of God.  That is how He works.  He is the God of second chances and He is full of mercy and compassion (James 5:11).

Jeff, my husband, didn't understand how Dylan had the nerve to ask for mercy!  And he did not want to grant it either.  But he loves Dylan with all his heart.  It hurt him as much as it hurt Dylan to carry out his punishment so he talked with Dylan.  This time Jeff had to do the apologizing.  He explained to Dylan that although he shouldn't have shouted, he also had a responsibility as Dylan's dad to discipline him, to teach him to follow directions the first time they are given.  Dylan still wanted mercy and my husband told him that he was merciful towards him.  He still couldn't have his toys back, but he would have a second chance tomorrow to follow directions the first time they were given!  Jeff assured Dylan that he was loved and completely forgiven, accepted, and that no more toys would be taken away.  Dylan needed this reassurance from his daddy. 

God requires that we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him.  (Micah 6:8)  This is not an easy task to carry out.  That's why we need God.  Nothing is too bad for Him to forgive and He does give second (and third and fourth....) chances...even when we don't deserve it. He loves us that much!  Yes, there may be some discipline required, but He is a God of His Word.  He saves us, not because of the righteous things we do, but because of His mercy.  (Titus 3:5)

Sometimes we feel guilty because of the things we have done that we know were wrong.  We may think that God could never forgive and accept us.  But that is far from the truth.  God forgave the people of Ninevah, He forgave my sweet Dylan (and his daddy), and He forgives us too. 

So, if you find yourself saying, "Daddy (in Heaven), what about mercy?"  Remember, His mercies are new each and every day and that my friends, is something we can count on!


My prayer for today:

Father, thank you that you give mercy to Your children (that's us).  I know that there are things that I have done that are not pleasing to You.  Please show me the way I should go, and point out anything I do that needs correcting.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.


Application Steps:

The book of Jonah, which can be found in the Old Testament of the Bible, is a short one.  Read it today.  You may learn, like Jonah, that God will give us another chance to serve Him when we return to Him.  (Hopefully God won't have to put us in the belly of a big fish to get His point across!!!!)  Write down one thing that you learn after reading this exciting story.


Reflection Points:

Is there anything in your life for which God is calling you to seek forgiveness?

Is there anyone in your life that God is calling you to be merciful or compassionate towards?

Do you believe that God gives second chances?

It is better to obey God than to run away and defy him (or pitch a temper tantrum).  God, in His mercy, will often give you another chance when you return to Him.


Power Verses:

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. Titus 3:13  (NIV)

(for the Lord your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.  Deuteronomy 4:31 (NKJV)

In all their distress, He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them.  In His love and mercy, He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.  Isaiah 63:9  (NIV)

"This is what the Lord Almighty says:  'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another...'"  Zechariah 7:9  (NIV)

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts.  Point out anything You find in me that makes You sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24  (The Living Bible)


Additional Resources:

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/radical.html

Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids by Sharon Jaynes
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/greatmom.html

Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/count.html