READ: Matthew 18:21-35
Written by Paul David Tripp. New Morning Mercies, March 1.
We all do it, probably every day. We have no idea that we’re doing it, yet it has a huge impact on the way we view ourselves and the way we respond to others. It is one of the reasons there is so much relational trouble even in the house of God. What is this thing that we all tend to do that causes so much harm? We all forget. In the busyness and self-centeredness of our lives, we sadly forget how much our lives have been blessed by and radically redirected by mercy. The fact that God has blessed us with his favor when we deserved his wrath fades from our memories like a song whose lyrics we once knew but now cannot recall. The reality that on every morning brand-new mercy greets us is not the thing that grips our minds as we frenetically prepare for our day. When we lay our exhausted heads down at the end of the day for much needed sleep, we often fail to look back on the many mercies that dripped from God’s hands onto our little lives. We don’t often take time to sit and meditate on what our lives would’ve been like if the mercy of the Redeemer had not been written into our personal stories. Sadly, we all tend to be way too mercy-forgetful.
Mercy-forgetfulness is dangerous, because it shapes the way you think about yourself and others. When you remember mercy, you also remember that you simply did nothing whatsoever to earn that with which mercy has blessed you. When you remember mercy, you are humble, thankful, and tender. When you remember mercy, complaining gives way to gratitude and self-focused desire gives way to worship. But when you forget mercy, you proudly tell yourself that what you have is what you’ve achieved. When you forget mercy, you take credit for what only mercy could produce. When you forget mercy, you name yourself as righteous and deserving, and you live an entitled and demanding life.
When you forget mercy and think you’re deserving, you find it all too easy not to extend mercy to others. Proudly, you think that you’re getting what you deserve and that they are, too. Your proud heart is not tender, so it is not easily moved by the sorry plight of others. You forget that you are more like than unlike your needy brother, failing to acknowledge that neither of you stands before God as deserving. Humility is the soil in which mercy for others grows. Gratitude for mercy given is what motivates mercy extended. Paul says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving on another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32).