Summary: A new perspective on the concept of Mercy - a discretionary power to mitigate conflict or to grant forgiveness
8 July 2014 can be considered the worse day in Brazil’s history. Ever!
Those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, let me remind you: on that day, MERCY has been absent from Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Germany defeated Brazil in the first semifinal of the 2014 World Cup with an incredible score: 7-1.
After 3-0, it wasn’t even funny anymore… I mean, that game will be remembered for its cruelty, not for its quality… If Germany would have scored 10 more goals, it would have not made any difference. A merciless game.
Can you imagine David Luiz or Marcello on their knees begging for mercy from Klose or Muller, or Shweinstaigger? Not in a million years, they have hoped that in the second half things would be better, I was hopeful too. You can’t insult the football game itself by beating Brazil 7-1 in Brazil.
I can understand a gladiator, wounded and with a sword above his neck asking for mercy. However, mercy in that case would have meant dishonor. That’s why many gladiators preferred a “honorable” death over mercy.
What is mercy after all?
The dictionary gives us an idea of what mercy is: compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence.
This definition sounds fine as long as one is on the receiving end of MERCY. Of course we expect to be treated with compassion if we mess up. To ask for mercy is easy. To receive mercy from Jesus is even easier. To offer mercy… well… that’s a different matter.
And today I would like to share with you my understanding about mercy from the perspective of the giver.
There is a definition about mercy that I really love. One that we don’t use very much in our daily conversations or actions: the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment.
James 2:13 reads: For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Mercy triumphs over judgment…
It seems to me as if mercy is better understood when it is discussed in the context of judgment. And judgment exists only in the context of a LAW. Would you agree?
If you do, you would probably agree with me that God’s law shows us what sin is. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 7:7 that “I would not have known what sin was, had it not been for the law”.
Let’s summarize: here we have the LAW, which tells us what sin is. The law is also generous in telling us what the punishment is: generally speaking, death. That is the judgment.
And here we have mercy, which comes into play to triumph over judgment. Basically, to say to the law, “thank you, but I’ll take it from here myself.”
There is a story in the Bible about two blind men: Matthew 20:30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
What the two men understood better than Jesus’ entourage, his 12 disciples, was that Jesus possessed “the discretionary power of a judge to pardon” them.
Society, the church actually, applied the rule of law: it is impossible for you to be blind unless you or some of your ancestors have SINNED. That was the generally accepted rule in the Jewish culture during Jesus’ time. And that rule was enforced by the clergy!
But the two blind men had had enough! Jesus, HAVE MERCY on us. Shouting out loud! Have MERCY.
They didn’t care much about their own sight. They didn’t ask Jesus to heal them. All they asked for was mercy.
Have MERCY Jesus, we can’t bear the punishment of being outcastes anymore. We need someone to show compassion, we need someone to make use of that discretionary power to pardon us.
Are you experiencing the same feeling? Are you tired of injustice, of gossip, of character assassinations?
Don’t ask for mercy, Show mercy!
I would like to suggest today that mercy can not be regulated.
Mercy is wild. Mercy can not be contained. Mercy can not be measured.
Mercy can not be sliced in small pieces and offered according to one’s preferences.
Whether or not we have committed 1 crime or 1 million crimes, mercy pardons us if we seek it.
Mercy offers a way out when the LAW condemns. When the law can not protect you, your only hope is mercy. When lawyers can’t take up your case, when judges are ready to give the verdict, you desperately need mercy.
The sort of mercy that can only be offered by a judge with discretionary powers.
Today I would like to remind you that you too posses that discretionary power to forgive! You have that discretionary power to offer pardon even if it is not requested.