“And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”~Romans 12:8-10
“There is no austerity equal to a balanced mind, and there is no happiness equal to contentment; there is no disease like covetousness, and no virtue like mercy.”~Chanakya
Mercy, though it’s not used in the New Living Translation, is the last personality trait that we are going to talk about in this series. When I think of mercy I think of kindness and honor rolled all into one. I would not classify any one trait as dominant over the others, but there is a reason for Paul listing mercy last and it’s because mercy should be involved in every one of the other personality traits. It enhances every one of them. Mercy is love in action and that is what being a Christian is all about. Out of all of the personality traits listed, this is my strongest one. As with all the other traits some people have to work at them, some are by God’s design given to them as part of their persona. Mercy is a big part of my persona. The quote that is by Chanakya, an early leader of ancient India, is an awesome truth. Mercy brings a balanced mind, it brings contentment, and it fights covetousness.
The first key ingredient to mercy is unconditional love. As I learned to love myself as God loves me this became an easier thing for me to do with others. I started to see others as God sees me. Yes, we are all born into sin, we all have darkness about us, but we all are a work in progress. I always try to look for the outsider, the one who seems lost and I try to take them under my wing. Most of the time it’s rewarding, I find an awesome friend and I find my heart growing. The downside to mercy is sometimes you can be a magnet for people who are looking for attention. It’s so easy to enable that behavior when you are a mercy driven person. It’s happened to me several times in my life and sometimes you have to let those people go, they need to learn how to deal with themselves alone, before they are any good in any kind of relationship. Unconditional love knows when to let go, because you are not doing anyone any favors by enabling antisocial behavior. When Paul says to really love them, that’s unconditional love.
The next element of mercy is to be real. Be yourself and don’t worry about what others might think of you. In reality, this personality trait is a very attractive one. You are an easy person to befriend because you are an open book. People like real people, people that are comfortable with themselves and can laugh at themselves as well. Honesty to a mercy driven person is always backed with kind words that don’t hurt. You can rebuke someone and they have no idea they have been rebuked. It’s an awesome way to help someone correct their life without putting drama in the mix and hurting someone with your words.
Honor is the last and most important element to mercy. I have said that in other blogs honor is love and respect all in one nice package. Honor is not something to that people have to attain, it should be freely given. Given even to those that don’t deserve honor. One of the most important things that a mercy driven person has is a forgiving attitude. We are always trying to see the good in everyone and in every situation. I like to say that I don’t look at the glass half full or half empty, I look at it as overflowing; overflowing into others’ lives.
As we begin a new year today, think about ways to add mercy into your own life. It will be amazing how it can change your thinking and how people respond to you. If you are a leader, mercy is an effective way to be a servant leader as Jesus is. The three attributes are unconditional love, being real, and honoring people. Set out purposely to find ways to show mercy to people around you.
© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple], 2011-2015.