Do you ever have those paradigm shift sort of moments? You know, when something happens to you that leaves you a little different than you were before? For me, those moments are few and far between, but I recently experienced one that I want to share with you. It’s a time in my life when mercy triumphed over judgment.
I get this phrase from James 2:13. It has quickly become one of my favorite passages contained within the pages of the Bible. What a beautiful concept, the idea that mercy will triumph over judgement. I have come to believe that this concept lies at the very heart of who God is and what He seeks to do within each and every person’s life. I believe He is a God who freely offers mercy and changes lives in a way that judgment never could, and every now and again I experience this in tangible and life-changing ways.
Which brings me to my story.
You see, I’m far from perfect (no surprises there) and sometimes I mess up. Other times I mess up big. And at times I’ve messed up huge. Well this was one of those huge mess ups and I was afraid to let it see the light of day. Because of this, I would naturally push it deep down. I would fight to make sure that anyone this mistake might impact would have no idea that it had occurred. However, there was one problem with all of this…someone found out.
My heart was in my throat and it felt as if every muscle in my body was frozen. This was it. I had grieved, begged God for forgiveness, repented, and felt okay to move on, but now I was coming face to face with someone who knew this secret. Someone who wasn’t God. Someone who very well might not meet me with that same grace. I was looking into the face of someone who could feel disappointment, shame, and anger toward me. I was waiting for judgment to lay its heavy hand upon me. I was ready for justifiable punishment and anger…but it never came.
I braced myself for the impact of (much deserved) judgment like a scrawny middle school boy bracing for the impact of dodgeball during P.E. I was scared and not prepared for this whatsoever, but to my surprise the ball missed me completely and I was met by something else.
There was no condemnation and there was no anger. There was sadness, but amidst that sadness there was love, forgiveness, and mercy. I couldn’t believe it. I was extended free forgiveness. Undeserved and unrequested. I was, in an extremely real way, loved as God loves, unconditionally, and it completely wrecked me.
This love and mercy did far more for my heart and soul than any amount of judgment ever could. This radical response, this grace, this love, it completely took me over. I was not simply sorry for my behavior, but I was set free from it. I was loved forward and mercy gave me a brand new start. My past was embraced and I tangibly felt and experienced this love that is reflective of God.
Mercy triumphed over judgment.
Mercy made me new in a way that judgment could not.
Mercy brought healing to both of us that judgment could not.
This is the way that God loves and forgives. No strings attached. No need to be something you’re not or do something to acquire worthiness to be loved. God just loves because love is what He is.
I pray that experiencing this sort of love will allow me to show it to others. I have encountered firsthand the power mercy has. I have seen how much more potent and powerful it is than judgment.
When God wants to transform the world He does not bring judgment, he brings mercy. May we all learn to use this weapon as well as the God who displayed it perfectly before us.
If we do, lives shall be changed.
Image by Wall in Palestine via flickr