Last week in tennis, I was paired as a doubles partner in a USTA match with a gal who was playing for the first time in four months because of a neck injury. She could barely turn her head, so you can imagine how impaired her court movement was, not to mention how much her timing was off from not playing for so long.
I wasn’t surprised that we lost, but how we lost was an eye-opener.
Once our opponents realized that my partner wasn’t up to par, they intentionally picked on her, relentlessly pounding the ball just out of her reach so that she was forced to repeatedly dive to her bad side, putting herself at risk of re-injury.
Now I know this level of competition is fierce and many women are out for blood … to win at all costs. But I was taken aback at this blatant display of what all of life would be like without compassion.
In contrast, the next day I watched my 2-year-old grandbuddy Blaine wrestling on the floor with his 200-lb daddy. When Blaine was gently manipulated into a pinned position he couldn’t break with his own limited strength, he cried, “Mercy! Mercy!” and his daddy released all pressure and helped him up. The two laughed together and then had at it all over again.
Blaine willingly entered into the struggle knowing that if he got into trouble and asked for mercy, he would receive it. Because love was present.
What a difference it makes in our behavior … our relationships … our courage … when love is present.
According to Webster, mercy is, “Compassion shown to an offender.” In other words, not giving someone what they deserve. And why would anyone not pay back what is due to a guilty person? To someone who has hurt you? Tread over you? Disrespected you? Humiliated you?
Only one thing comes to mind: love. The underlying reason why all Christ-followers should treat others with respect, courtesy, and yes, mercy. We receive love from Papa God. We, in turn, must choose to extend it to others.
To everyone, yes, but especially the guilty. The ones who don’t deserve it.
So this is my weekly lesson from Papa God. I am determined to do better. To be more merciful to my offenders – the lady who threw the barely veiled insult at me, that perpetually cranky neighbor who gets under my skin, the man who ignored the stop sign and came within an inch of crunching my car.
Because even if they’re not yelling “Mercy! Mercy!”on the outside, if I listen hard enough with my spiritual ears, I can hear the cry from a deeper place when Papa God’s love is present.