As I mentioned before, here, I have started a club for young women to look at pertinent topics in their lives through a scriptural standpoint. We started off with a general meeting to toss around topics to study. The number one topic, in varying fashions, was relationships. In particular, two of the three girls were having tremendous difficulty in relating to their own fathers.
This was an amazing notion to me. As I mentioned, these girls are from professing Christian families with long-standing relationships in church and they were in tears about how they felt so distant from the man that should be the closest to them. I was stunned, they were describing how the relationship with my father had always been - and he is not Christian. But, after the kleenex was passed around, we determined that we would look at how relationships should work when approached from God's way.
Our first homework lesson was to find the meaning of mercy and search out verses and examples of mercy in scripture:
MERCY - compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, a enemy; compassion, pity, benevolence
- the descretionary power of a judge to give a pardon to an unworthy offender
Some of the verses that were chosen by more than one of us were:
O give thanks unto the Lord: for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever.
For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. Psalm 86:5
And the examples of mercy we pulled from scripture included the life of David, the apostle Paul and several prophets.
We looked at Psalm 90:14,
O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Then we asked ourselves, do we as Christian women seek this? Are we satisfied with the mercy that the Lord has shown to us? Do we rejoice all our days?
Of course when we looked at the feelings that had been brought forward in the first meeting of our club, the answer was 'no' - there was no rejoicing in those relationships. So we began to look at our roles in any relationship, starting with our relationship with the Lord.
We read Matthew 25:31-46 when Jesus seperates the 'goats from the sheep'. We looked at how the sheep were perplexed about when they had 'served Christ' only to find that they had served him by showing mercy unto others WITH NO EXPECTATIONS from it.
From there the girls began to discuss how they did have expectations of their fathers and others they had relationships with - they were coveting attention or jealous of how they perceived other families operating. Each time they related a story of how they had initiated fellowship with their fathers, they had been disappointed with the reaction or the return on their efforts.
By reviewing the verses and examples of mercy each of the girls had brought forward, we began to shape the conversation around what the Lord expects FROM us to bestow His mercy. The answer, of course, is nothing. There is nothing we can do to earn His mercy or make restitution for it - it is a free gift that we, as His chosen children, receive unworthily. This is a relationship that the Lord initiated and continues to perservere with even when we distance ourselves from Him. What an example of mercy to follow.
Then we looked at Luke 6:27 &28, where Jesus instructs:
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use.
If we should treat our enemies like this, how much more should we be treating those we love in this way? Giving mercy and serving those around us although they may not deserve it or appreciate it; serving without expectations for return. Easily said, hard to do. But then again, the more we improve our relationship with the Lord, the easier it is to follow that example, i.e. 'draw nigh unto the Lord and he shall draw nigh unto thee' James 4:8.
So do we, as Christians, care what God has to say about giving mercy to those in our lives? Are we sheep or goats? That is the question for all Christians. As for the Rubies, they left the meeting with a new perspective on how to view each of their relationships. They all determined to give of themselves without expectations from others - because...
My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.