When we talk about the non-doing gifts of the Spirit, there is perhaps no better place to start than with the gift of mercy, for we are living in a world in desperate need of this.
Our culture tells us that it is our place to judge. In fact, we're supposed to have an opinion about everything...and everyone. We're supposed to take whatever information we happen to have (we cannot say "facts" because in many cases, it's simply information and not fact, as it has not been shown to be necessarily truthful) and pass condemnation without a second thought. Jump on the judgment wagon, my friends.
And if you're not sure what's to be condemned or not and on what basis, don't worry - the media will tell you. All you have to do is be willing to see in very limited perspective based only on what you're told is worthy to consider.
The gift of mercy always considers something greater. Because the gift of mercy is a-political and deeply human.
Mercy sees every man and woman as created in the image of God. First and foremost, that's it. Mercy steps back and causes us to pause, declaring that there is more to a person than the information that w are given about him or her. It reminds us that no one is merely his or her worst day, biggest mistake, loudest outcry.
Mercy reminds us that justice is far more than judgment, that it demands more than simply guilt or innocence. It reminds us not only what justice is but what justice can and cannot do. Most importantly, it reminds us that justice is about restoring a man, not destroying him, for the goal of all good graces and of love is wholeness and fellowship and atonement, and these things require the eyes of mercy.
Mercy never forgets its own standing as a person in need of the very same grace. Mercy sees sawdust where the rest of the world sees logs; it sees specks where our eyes are drawn to beams. It stands in the crowd, hearing the shouts of condemnation, but heeds the words of Christ - let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
That is perhaps the secret whisper of mercy above all else. It sees the world the way that it does, it knows the need, because it knows its own need.
And I'm telling you - we need the gift of mercy in our world right now.
We need it desperately. We need those persons who can pull us back from the circus, who give us a broader view to see more and to think more and to love more in a world that is so quick to narrow things - and people - down for us, to tell us what matters and what doesn't and why and when and how to think about it and what judgment to make and to make that judgment now with mere information when what we need...what we need is perspective.
A perspective that starts with in the beginning, when all in the world was right in the eyes of God and man was made in His image, with all the dignity and grace and wonder that that entails. A perspective that holds onto that above all costs and refuses to lose what is holy for the sake of anything else.
A perspective that consistently says, look and see. Behold! Not a sinner. No, not a sinner. But a human being.
A living, breathing, loving, longing, winning, losing, broken, redeemed human being who stands before you in need not of judgment, but of mercy.
Truly, this is a gift.