When I was nineteen I had the privilege of working in a small publishing office. We didn’t deal with the public at all. I got paid pretty good money to sit and chat with my bosses or watch movies while sorting checks. Most days the company bought lunch and I was out of there by 2pm. Being spoiled like that pretty much ruined me for the dog days of early child rearing.
The company never took any taxes out of my paychecks. I was paid like someone self-employed and was supposed to put money aside for when taxes were due. However, at nineteen, the idea of squirreling money away for taxes was soooooo inconvenient. I needed every penny to cover the bills. Well, tax time rolled around and I filed like a good girl…like I had for the previous couple of years expecting some money back like before. Much to my surprise, the tax man said that this time I owed him. Hundreds of dollars. Gulp. I was in a panic. I didn’t have that money and couldn’t see any way of making it any time soon. All I knew was that the IRS was coming after me and I was in big trouble.
Though I was embarrassed, I shared my drama with my boss. She was so. very. patient. with my daily nineteen year old drama. After I explained my woes she pulled out her checkbook and wrote a check for the entire amount that I owed the IRS. My boss wasn’t obligated to pay any of my taxes. I knew full well that I hadn’t been responsible with my paychecks. I deserved to be in debt to the IRS. She wasn’t my mother or related to me in anyway. She owed me nothing. And yet, out of compassion and Lord only knows what else (maybe to have some peace for just one day in the office) she paid my debt and I will never forget it.
Her single act of mercy arrested me and left a mark.
Jesus told a story In about a king who had a servant who owed him money. One day the king decided it was time for the servant to pay up. The servant didn’t have the money so the king ordered that the servant, along with his wife and children be auctioned off as a slave to pay the debt. The man threw himself at the king’s feet and begged for mercy and a chance to repay the debt. The king took pity on him and decided to cancel his debt entirely.
As soon as the servant left the king’s room, he ran into someone who owed him money. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded that he “pay up”. The debtor threw himself at the servant’s feet begging for mercy, but the servant wouldn’t hear him. He had the man arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. Well, the other servants in the neighborhood were outraged and decided to report him to the king.
Then the king called the servant in “You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?” The kind was furious and made the man pay back every penny he owed. Jesus went on to say this:
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” -Matthew 18:35 NIV
It’s not enough for me to receive mercy when I’m begging for it, no matter how grateful I am. Mercy must be extended to those who are begging for it from me. My sons, my husband, my dogs, my extended family, bad drivers, the flustered cashier at Target, my co-workers, my friends. Mercy knows no bounds.
Who is begging you and I for mercy?
Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy. Open our eyes to see who desperately needs the mercy that you’ve shown to us. Your mercy has caught our attention and we will not forget. You’ve marked us forever yours. We want to live worthy of it. In Jesus’ name.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.-Matthew 5:7 NIV
I’d love to hear your mercy story in the comments.