"Henry" grew up in a home parented by an alcoholic father and a distant mother. With no familial example, he turned to drugs by the time he was thirteen. By his mid-twenties, he'd been twice married, twice divorced. He lost his children, ended up in jail.
He should have known better having seen his parents' life. He should be punished for his robberies, drug dealing, inept parenting. He should have...
True. Though, we need to remember we all have sinned in some fashion, and in breaking one part of God's commandments, we've broken them all. Thankfully, Henry's story didn't end with a life of incarceration.
With the new drug laws for non-violent offenders, Henry was offered drug court in lieu of a continued sentence. This procedure is essentially a civil action that depends on the will-power of the addict to stay clean and to be accountable. It's a step toward mercy.
Better for Henry, he found himself in a residential, God-centered rehabilitation program. Here, with a close reading of Scriptures, a program much like AA's Twelve Step program AND social and emotional support, he's been clean for close to a year.
His sister had been granted custody of his children. Prior to his joining the drug program, she refused all contact with her brother. Now, given his progress, he's established visitation again.
Relationships are being restored. Henry's beginning to give back to the society he robbed, and a life is redeemed.
|"For judgment will be merciless |
to one who has shown no mercy;
mercy triumphs over judgment "James 2:13.
He's not an isolated case. I work with CR (Celebrate Recovery), a Christian-based course that builds its precepts on the Beatitudes. It consists of worship, testimony, study, small group, accountability partners and sponsors. If a person struggling with addictive behaviors or co-dependency so wishes, he/she can take an intensive six-month study.
This community redeems the lost. Not every individual shown mercy here does turn her life around. However, many dear friends, people I've quickly formed close alliances with, had been former addicts, and some had been rightly imprisoned for their actions.
It's a network of beautiful lives restored because of mercy.
Mercy must be extended through all facets of our society, not just to addicts. Black lives, just as police lives, matter. Let's understand and work for mercy. Poverty is sometimes self-inflicted, other times it's a matter of circumstances. How can mercy not help? Christians are mocked, just as Muslims are discriminated against. Can we reach a Muslim with the truth of Jesus without mercy? Can we allow the Holocaust to resurrect because of another religious intolerance?
If one person out of ten is pulled out of the fire by mercy, we've achieved much.
Shakespeare said in The Merchant of Venice:
The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes...
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation...
And aren't the last two lines so true? Who here would have salvation without God's mercy? In James 2:13, we receive a chilling warning if we have not mercy...our own judgment will be merciless.