It came time for us to leave. After loading Elijah into his car seat, I walked around the front of the car. In front of me, seated on a brick flower terrace were two men. They were in their late fifties with slept-on hair, yesterday’s clothes, worn out Vietnam Vet hats, and a smile that made me stop and notice them.
I said hello. They both nodded and replied,“Hello.” I went to scurry around to the driver’s side door but the Spirit made me slow down.
And I did.
Just then, one of them said, “Do you know what Matthew 5, verse 7 says?” I stood there thinking for a moment. After a few seconds, I replied, “Not off the top of my head. What does it say?”
He shrunk down a bit, looked embarrassed and said,“Whoa, you put me on the spot there.”
“Sorry,” I said, “I felt a little on the spot too but I didn’t mean to embarrass you.” After a pause, I asked, “But now you have me wondering what it says.”
He sat up, pressed his hands together, bowed his head and started thinking. After a moment, he looked up and said, “Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy.” He smiled, proud of himself for recalling the verse.
Then, he asked, “Do you know what it means?”
“I think it means that we are not to judge one another; instead we are to show mercy, and God will be merciful to us. But, if we judge others, God will judge us,” I replied. Both men smiled, and he replied, “Yes, that’s it! We seem to be quick to condemn and slow to give mercy. I think some people need to hear that message, don’t you?”
After our brief chat, I shook their hands. They introduced themselves as Mike and Eddie. I thanked them for the conversation, they blessed me, and I drove off.
“I think some people need to hear that message, don’t you?”
I don’t see a lot of mercy being shown in our society. From the political election cycle to TV programs, and, unfortunately, even in casual dialogue around town, I don’t see a lot of mercy. Instead, I see a lot of judging. “We seem to be quick to condemn and slow to give mercy.” I know I fall into this trap. Maybe we all do.
God is love. The One who can judge, God Almighty, is full of mercy, compassion and truth. We are called to walk in the way of Christ by loving one another which includes being merciful to one another and to ourselves. When we walk in the way of Christ, we act in kindness and mercy.
Sometimes, it takes a homeless Vietnam vet to remind us of God’s mercy.
May you be blessed as you show mercy and may God’s mercy be shown to you.