How many of you have taken a spiritual gifts assessment? I’ve taken several over the course of the past several years. They give great insight into the things that God has specifically wired you up to do. Each time I have taken the test the same two or three gifts always make an appearance…Leadership, Administration. What I find interesting is that 15 or so years ago I had taken one such survey and Mercy had shown up as one of my spiritual gifts. I was a little perplexed about what this gift was even about.
It’s this…Mercy is compassion poured out. Mercy is good favor poured out when we don’t deserve it. I was feeling pretty good about myself just about then. I wanted to be seen as someone that had compassion for other people. What I find interesting is that at that time I had little girls around the age of 4 & 5. Now my girls have grown into teens (responsible, good mannered, but still teens). Not too long ago I took another spiritual gifts test and found that my Mercy gift wasn’t in my top list anymore.
Aughhh…I’ve lost my Mercy! Maybe it had something to do with having teens:)
Do you feel like you’ve lost your Mercy…or maybe you’ve never had it. Do you feel like when around other people do you feel like you get more judged than given the benefit of the doubt? Let’s look more at what Susie has to say about showing mercy over judgment.
Susie begins this chapter by painting a picture for us about the importance of boundaries in our lives. This doesn’t mean that you put up a wall and don’t let anyone in. Quite the opposite in fact. Boundaries are a healthy part of life.
Here’s how she says it on page 111 “To be transformable is to give the Lord easy access to the things of our character that Jesus might make us more like Him. But opening our souls up to anyone who wants to say a cross word to us is not wise. Not to say we should keep difficult people out of our lives. They are usually the ones God uses to refine our character.” “Deep in our souls there must be an inner chamber where only Jesus resides.” “There must be a bigger gap between the way people affect us, and how God affects us.”
Far too many times in my life have I been guilty of letting that gap get turned around and people’s opinions and rather useless comments took a staggering toll on my sense of identity and purpose. Consider this on page 112 “Sometimes the act of being a doormat is mistaken for true humility, and yet those two are polar opposites. True humility never lets go of identity.” You see, I’d given up my true identity in Christ in favor of whatever people thought of me…and trust me…they were merciful. Far too often I’ve felt myself at the short end of the judge’s gavel.
So, when you don’t want to live at the whim of someone’s judgment and you want to extend mercy to others…where do you start.
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging, is the standard by which you will be judged.” Matthew 7:1-2
Here’s the hidden truth in that verse. If you treat others like they have power over you and your identity, they will treat you as though they have power over you and your identity. I had never thought of it that way. How many times had I just willingly handed over the reigns to my identity. It wasn’t even as if they had to ask. Then she goes on to say “Conversely, when you walk in the truth of who you are, you are telling others the truth about who they are. Loved. Called. Chosen. Forgiven.”
We know it feels bad when other women come at us with judgment in their eyes…and we’ve all certainly been guilty of judgment as well. There is always something we can call out in other people. It’s so simple to find fault in what someone else is doing. Certainly I can do it better, say it better, act it better…whatever it better. Right? And to make it worse, there is always going to be a little bit of truth to what we see in others.
Aside from who we are in Christ, every last one of us is a big mess. It would be valuable to keep that in mind as we’re deliberating on just how we’re going to exact judgment on someone else’s messy life. Here’s what Susie write about this on page 119 “Every time we judge, or build a case, or just plain gossip, we are acting out of a lie. When we react to someone’s actions rather than respond to God’s love, we act out of a lie. When we believe that another person has the power to diminish our worth, we are staring a lie in the face…We all get out of step at times. That okay, as long as we find our way back to the uncommon path again.
Be uncommon. Put yourself in the situation and consider how you’d like to be treated. What response would mean the world to you? Now, give that to the person you’re thinking about. It’s time to seek the high road. Love and mercy can change a heart.
What About You?
Here are some practical questions I’ll walk through with my class. (As always…when you join me live you get the goofy stories from my everyday life.)
1. Read James 2:12-13
When we judge, we “try, give a ruling on, conclude, surmise, conjecture, regard as, rate as, reckon, appraise, examine.”
- Read over this list and search your own heart. Write down the initials of people whom you are currently judging according to the above description.
- Spend some time prayer over this list, and ask for forgiveness. Pray for your offenders.
2. When we show mercy we show…”clemency, compassion, grace, charity, forgiveness, soft-heartedness, tender-heartedness, kindness and generosity.
Read over this list. Think of the instances in the bible where mercy was shown. Moses put himself between the people and God and assumed their need. God wanted to destroy them for how they treated Moses. Jesus went before the Father on our behalf. This is aforeign way to respond to an offense.
- Pick two aspects of mercy and write your thoughts about them.
- Describe a time when you showed mercy.
- What was that like for you?
3. Read 1 John 2:9
- Rewrite this serve in your own words and apply it to women.
- Explain how bad attitudes can darken your perspective on life.
4. Read Provers 26:20
- Write down a few tangible ways you can apply this verse.
We’ll end our classes with this prayer from your book.
You are all that I need. Forgive me, Lord, for the times I’ve held on to judgment and forsaken mercy. Everyday, You offer mercy to me. Every day. This perpetual gift is a priceless one, and I don’t want to miss a drop of your morning mercies. Bring to mind those who need mercy from me. Show me any hidden judgments that I’ve neglected to bring into the light. Refresh me in Your presence and draw near as I pray. Help me to love mercy, Lord, the way You love me. What a treasure it is to belong to You. Lead me on, for Your name’s sake. Amen.”
Can you believe it! We’re over halfway through out study. Next week – Chapter 8 where the Uncommon Woman chooses prayer over pettiness..
If you’d like to join this study in real time…I’m teaching it at HopePark Wednesday Mornings & Thursday Nights. If you’re a Nashville local, the door is always open. We’re at 8001 Hwy. 70 South, just off I-40. Online at http://hopepark.com and on twitter @hopepark.
Me…well you can find me twittering @jodytodd.
Have a great week!
Questions and assigned quotes from the study by Susie Larson entitled The Uncommon Woman.