Monday, March 19, 2012

Having received mercy so now we show mercy to others - Hebrews 4:16 with a story from President Calvin Coolidge's life

SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 4:16
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Years after the death of President Calvin Coolidge, this story came to light. In the early days of his presidency, Coolidge awoke one morning in his hotel room to find a cat burglar going through his pockets. Coolidge spoke up, asking the burglar not to take his watch chain because it contained an engraved charm he wanted to keep. Coolidge then engaged the thief in quiet conversation and discovered he was a college student who had no money to pay his hotel bill or buy a ticket back to campus. Coolidge counted $32 out of his wallet -- which he had also persuaded the dazed young man to give back! -- declared it to be a loan, and advised the young man to leave the way he had come so as to avoid the Secret Service! (Yes, the loan was paid back.)

The reception of an undeserved act of compassion and forgiveness … mercy ... the giving of the unexpected in a situation that clearly warrants something totally different … mercy. We all have received God’s mercy throughout our lives. There have been those moments when we have shown another mercy.

And so our Lenten journey continues as we embrace the mercy of God and search for opportunities to show mercy to others.

It is easier to pass judgment, demand retribution, and to attempt to get even … you know, the old “eye-for-an-eye and tooth-for-a-tooth” approach to life … the old, “my way or the highway” approach to life. And yet, God shows us mercy and expects us to show mercy to others.

The challenge for the day is to look for ways and situations where unmerited mercy can be shown. Who knows a life might be saved, turned around, changed … just like the young man in President Coolidge’s room that evening. The loan was repaid, but oh what an impact it probably had on that young man’s life … all for $32.

The key, as illustrated in the Coolidge story, is to take the time to learn the circumstances that has caused an individual to be acting in a certain way. As their story unravels it becomes easier to show them mercy. God understands our circumstances and thus, his mercy is unveiled for us. May we do like wise to others.

You have shown us nothing but mercy, Gracious Lord, help us to do likewise to those who surround us.

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