February 1, 2010
Acts of Mercy
Ariel Allison Lawhon, She Reads Assistant Director
"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
Micah 6:8 (NIV)
My brother got off the plane with a child in each arm, and two trailing behind. He'd gone to Africa for three children - orphaned by civil war in Liberia - and came home with four.
A chance encounter in a poverty stricken village left him with a choice to make: rescue a starving baby or leave her to die. So when the young mother thrust her child into his arms, he promised that he would be a father to her. He made the decision without weighing the pros and cons or even consulting his wife. Mercy!
He spent the next two weeks spoon feeding his emaciated child, changing malaria-ridden diapers, and carrying her around in a baby sling. Not to mention keeping the other three children in tow. When he finally arrived in Nashville, a crowd of fifty friends and family greeted him with tears and applause. To see mercy first hand is to weep.
Merriam Webster's dictionary defines mercy in three ways:
"A compassion or forbearance shown to an offender."
"A blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion."
"Compassionate treatment of those in distress."
Mercy. It is something that God longs for us to lavish on others. Not just orphans on another continent, but the people in our homes as well. Those in our workplaces. Those in our churches. Strangers on a bus.
I often think of what my brother did in that moment, not because I'm faced with such extreme choices, but because my days are filled with countless opportunities to show mercy. A kind word to my defiant toddler. A welcoming smile when my husband is late for dinner, again. Sitting in silence with the friend who's just had her fifth consecutive miscarriage. Forgiveness when I'd rather hold a grudge.
For She Reads featured author Tom Davis, mercy means being an advocate to the fatherless by caring for AIDS orphans in Africa. But for you it could mean mentoring, giving, volunteering, or sponsoring a child.
It may mean writing a check so earthquake victims have clean drinking water and medical care. Or extending mercy might require you to get your hands dirty locally at a homeless shelter, or nursing home. Or mercy might mean choosing not to end an unplanned pregnancy.
Regardless, when we act justly and love mercy, we show the world that God is real. It's a lesson I learned first hand by watching my brother.
Today my niece is a beautiful, healthy five-year-old with no memories of her near death experience. The starvation and malaria that threatened to claim her are long gone. She laughs and dances and believes that her daddy is the kindest man on earth. But for a single act of mercy, her story could have ended in the dust of Africa.
What choice will you make today when faced with the chance to love mercy?
Dear Lord, make us a people full of mercy. May I act with justice not only in the big moments of life, but behind closed doors as well. Help me love when I want to hate. Help me give when I want to keep. And bestow on me the grace to be Jesus-with-skin-on to a lost and dying world. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
She Reads author Tom Davis knows what it means to walk into the darkest places on earth and show mercy. His novel Scared is the semi-biographical story of years spent working with AIDS orphans in Africa. The novel is a current She Reads selection - visit the site to learn more about the novel and enter today's giveaway:
Enter to win a grand prize - a custom journal like the one in the novel and a copy of Scared. Two other winners will each receive a copy of the novel.
Find some way to show mercy to someone today. Visit Compassion International.
Pray that God will show you a specific person who needs your mercy, and then offer it with no strings attached.
Ask God how you can be a blessing to someone you know, and someone you don't.
Pray that God will make you into a person who acts justly, loves mercy, and walks humbly with Him.
Matthew 23:23, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices - mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." (NIV)
Zechariah 7:9, "This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another." (NIV)
Matthew 5:7, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." (NIV)
© 2010 by Ariel Allison Lawhon. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105