How many people do YOU know who are truly merciful?
Once again many groups have responded with bewilderment and a struggle to identify such persons within their circle of relationships. Jesus modeled mercy toward an adulteress about to be stoned. “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” [John. 8:7 NIV] Even at the point of death, Jesus showed mercy toward a thief hanging from an adjacent cross by confirming that, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” [Luke 23:43 NIV]
During the Revolutionary War, the winter of 1777-1778 was particularly brutal. General George Washington and his army were quartered at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The General listened to a very unusual request for mercy. Michael Wittman, a spy, had been sentenced to hang for treason. The night before the scheduled execution, an elderly man, Peter Miller, was given permission to see the commanding officer. In exchange for many previous favors, Miller asked for only one:
“I’ve come to ask you to pardon Michael Wittman.”
Washington was taken aback. “Impossible! Wittman has done all in his power to betray us, even offering to join the British and help destroy us.” He shook his head. “In these times we cannot be lenient with traitors; and for that reason I cannot pardon your friend.”
“Friend? [said Miller] He’s no friend of mine. He is my bitterest enemy. He has persecuted me for years. He has even beaten me and spit in my face, knowing full well that I would not strike back. Michael Wittman is no friend of mine!”
Washington was puzzled. “And you still wish me to pardon him?” “I do. I ask it of you as a great personal favor.” “Why?’ “I ask it because Jesus did as much for me.”
Washington turned away and walked into the next room. Soon he returned with a paper on which was written the pardon of Michael Wittman. “My dear friend,” he said to Peter, placing the paper in the old man’s hand. “I thank you for this.”
We often hear the phrase, “That’s not fair.” Did you know that fairness is not a Scriptural concept? Perhaps it is partially because fairness like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. There is no commonly held standard or definition of fairness. Instead, two prominent elements of the character of God are judgment and mercy. Scripture tells us that in situations where judgment and mercy are in opposition, mercy wins. If mercy is such an important and powerful principle, why are many people missing out?
Are YOU truly merciful?
Are YOU more merciful than you were five or ten years ago?
If not, why are you not growing or maturing in such a vitally important godly character trait?
What do YOU think?
“Mercy triumphs over judgment!” [James 2:13/Proverbs 21:13 NIV]