Psalm 25; 2 Chron. 6:32-7:7; James 2:1-13; Mark 14:53-65
Mercy triumphs over judgment.
It’s easy to be angry. It’s easy to be offended. The world is filled with slights and insults and misunderstandings galore, some of them intended, some of them not so much. I am pretty sure that I offended a gal in WalGreens the other day looking for a traveler’s Covid test–my question “does this count for returns to the US from abroad” was more interesting to the pharmacist than the “when am I going to get my routine prescription” and the whole pharmacy staff disengaged from her to attend to me. Didn’t mean to offend, but the lemon-bitten look on her face indicates I did.
So, in a world in which it’s easy to angry, insulted and offended, how then shall we live? The message of Scripture is clear and consistent: mercy triumphs over judgment. Yes, that person was a jerk–forgive and move on. Yes, this person took some of my glory, or did me dirt, or disagrees with me–forgive and move on. If the level of the deed was so high that it can’t go unpunished lest it be repeated on others in the future, then speak gently to the person about her error, or call the relevant police and report the rambunctiousness and misdemeanorin’. But don’t let the slight, the slap, sit in your soul and fester.
The person who hurt me: do I know why he did so? No. I know that he did, not why he did. Thus is it ever: none of us have perfect insight into our neighbors’ motives. So it’s best to judge his motives gently (maybe he was distracted and didn’t even know he was doing it, maybe he was desperate and anxious about some great burden I can’t imagine and so was making poor choices like a fox caught in a trap, whatever) even if I’m standing my ground on restitution and apology being required. Mercy triumphs over judgment, friends. And mercy is mostly about not writing off the person who’s hurt you, denying their fundamental humanity, their fundamental child-of-God-ness, and turning them into a monster in your mind. Because James suggests none-too-subtly that God judges us as we judge others, just like the Lord’s Prayer does.