All of us need mercy from others.
We make mistakes. We let them down. We unintentionally do and say things that are hurtful, things hard for them to bear.
When that happens, we need those people to have mercy on us.
It’s what gives us hope that we’ve not damaged the relationship beyond repair.
It’s what demonstrates God’s mercy to us, giving us hope that He will work in our mistakes for our good (Romans 8:28).
But it goes both ways… others need mercy from us too.
Our spouses need us to have mercy on them.
Our children need us to have mercy on them.
Our mercy is many times God’s love toward the people in our lives.
But there are times, crucial times when they need you to withhold mercy, in order to give them love.
Because mercy is not always a loving thing.
Sometimes, in our desire to be merciful, we withhold the very things that our loved ones need the most.
We want to spare them emotional pain, avoid a conflict, or help them “feel better” about themselves or a situation…
So we don’t give them…
- A description of the blind spots that are enslaving them, so that they can have a chance to be free.
- A bold exhortation that could help them finally be honest with themselves about their besetting sin.
- An emotional plea for them to act in humility, to repent of their wrongs, and receive the healing of forgiveness that Jesus provides (1 John 1:9).
THAT is the point where mercy divorces love.
It’s when our desire to be kind goes wrong… and becomes unkindness.
It’s when our own discomfort with the situation causes us to withhold the truth that could set them free (John 8:32).
It’s when we leave them trapped in their own blindness and sin, which is the most unloving thing we could do.
Are there situations in your life, where you’ve withheld love for the sake of mercy?
Are there situations where you thought you were being kind, but in the end were being unloving?
Are there things your loved ones need to hear from you, but you’re too afraid to tell them?
Is there a situation right now where the most loving thing you could do would be to withhold mercy…
and speak the truth that could set your loved one free?by
I love this perspective. It reminds me of recent political “tolerance.” Sometimes the loving thing is to call someone out and to help them process through a difficult situation.
Loren Pinilis – yes, tough love is sometimes the only love that matters.