How would your relationships be different if mercy were built into them? If you were a student of God’s mercy—that is, if mercy became a way of life—how would it transform your relationship with your family? Your coworkers? Your neighbors?
I remember reading a story about twin brothers who lived years ago. Together from before birth, they were close, seemingly bonded for life. In childhood they were inseparable; and when they grew up, the townspeople said the reason they never married was because they loved each other so much.
When their father died, they took over the family business and ran it together. One day, one of the brothers was so busy that instead of fully ringing up one customer before he moved on to help the next person in line, he left a dollar bill sitting on top of the cash register. Later he remembered the misplaced bill, but when he went back to the cash register, the money was gone.
He asked his brother, “Did you take the dollar bill I left there?”
“No, I didn’t,” came the reply.
Unable to let the matter go, he asked again, “Surely you took it. There was no one else in the store.” Again, the other brother denied taking the money and became angry It became a point of tension between them. Distrust arose; angst grew; anger and combativeness set in. Over time, the accusations and defensiveness led to a rift that ultimately got out of hand. Shockingly, they proceeded to build a partition down the center of the store, and they ran separate businesses out of their respective sides.
Decades passed, and then one day a nice car with out-of-state plates drove up. A well-dressed man walked into one side of the store and asked, “Have you been in business very long here?”
The brother answered, “Yes, thirty or forty years.”
“Good,” continued the stranger, “I very much need to tell you something . . . Some twenty years ago, I passed through this town. I was out of work and homeless. I jumped off a boxcar. I had no money and I had not eaten for days. I came down that alley outside and when I looked into your store window, I saw a dollar bill on the cash register. I slipped in and took it. Recently I became a Christian. I was converted and accepted Christ as my personal Savior. I know now it was wrong of me to steal that dollar bill . . . and I have come to pay you back with interest and to beg your forgiveness.”
The brother, with tears in his eyes, took the man to the other side of the store so he could tell the story to his estranged brother.
Now that’s a bit on the dramatic side, but what about you and me? What about our relationships? How much time have we lost in our relationships because mercy did not reign? How would things have been different if we had done Jesus’ homework assignment? Not only does mercy change how we relate with God, but it also has a spillover effect in our relationships with each other. Too many fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives have lost weeks, months, even years for the lack of mercy.
Mercy is meant to change our relationships with not only God but also each other.
From The Mercy Prayer by Robert Gelinas ©2013 (Thomas Nelson) Used with permission.