There is a classic episode of MASH in which Hawkeye (the camp jokester) has played a prank on his best friend BJ. Non Hawkeye is expecting a prank back - and he spends the entire episode waiting for it happen. He becomes paranoid and starts acting crazy as he expects a prank at any moment. But it never comes. BJ plays the ultimate prank on Hawkeye - Mercy.
Last time we spoke about ‘Grace’ - which is giving something that is not deserved. This is seen when we are offended by someone, but we give them a pass knowing that they are fighting battles that we don’t understand - so we show them love in hopes that they will show us love and give us a pass when we offend them. It is a major step towards promoting peace.
Mercy is the opposite side of this coin. It is NOT giving someone something that they do deserve. It is NOT punching them in the nose when they offend you. It is NOT seeking vengeance for a pain that the world said you deserve justice for.
This is what Jesus meant when he said: “Blessed are the MEEk” (Matthew 5:5). Meekness is not weakness - it is strength under control. It is knowing you can do damage, but choosing NOT to.
Jesus showed us both Grace and Mercy when He took our sins on the cross. He showed us Mercy by not executing us for our sins and He showed us Grace when He gave us new life.
Grace and Mercy are wonderful things - but they are not meant to be a free pass to do whatever we want. It is meant to be a wake up call.
Just as sin and the law are meant to show us when we are missing the mark — grace and mercy show us how we are affecting others. When we know we deserve punishment, but we don’t get it - and when we don’t deserve peace, but we get it, it can be a shameful thing. It makes us look inside and think about who we truly are.
Romans 12:20 - “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
By giving people that hurt us both grace and mercy - we are doing what they do not expect and what they know they don’t deserve. It does two things:
This is the heart of forgiveness.
This is the beginnings of peace.
This is discipleship.