In this post, Dennis shares how mercy was key in healing his first marriage.
The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:15-16
Paul in his first letter to Timothy says that he was the worst of sinners. Rightly so because Paul was a devout Jew who was persecuting and murdering Christians for what he believed was blasphemy against God. Paul’s life was totally changed by his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9:1-19). Jesus in his infinite mercy called Paul to be his chosen instrument to carry the Gospel message of His saving passion to the Gentiles. If Christ could show mercy to a murderer and use him to further His kingdom, should we not also share in Christ’s mission of divine mercy?
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7
Paul says that Christ had mercy on him to show His immense patience in waiting for other sinners to believe in Him and receive eternal life. If Christ is patient with sinners, should we not also be patient with the sinners that have wounded and hurt us? Ask God to give you this grace, to show mercy to the one most in need of it.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
Are you showing mercy and love to your spouse in the midst of any struggles you may be having in your marriage? Or are you harboring anger, bitterness and resentment towards your spouse? Are you judging his or her actions in an uncharitable way? Do you feel righteous indignation over any disagreements in your relationship? We are called to be ministers of mercy, especially in our marriages and families.
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it…So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:10, 12-13
Mercy is the key element in God’s plan of salvation. It was through mercy that God gave His only Son for the redemption of mankind, after the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. God is always seeking and calling the lost to repentance so that He might pour out His merciful love upon them. In receiving mercy, the forgiven are called to do likewise to those who have sinned against them. To be a godly man or woman, is to be like Christ, showering His mercy on those who are in particular need of His grace.
Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:8b
Deeds of mercy should arise out of love for Christ. An example of returning mercy for having received mercy is the woman that washed Jesus’ feet with her tears…
And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was sitting at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Luke 7:37-38
The love this woman showed Jesus is the same love you are to show your spouse. This is your call as a believer in Jesus Christ. Just as Christ came to show mercy to sinners so it must be with you. By showing mercy, hardened hearts are softened and healed. There is no other way to bring healing to a broken relationship.
Let me suggest three ways of exercising mercy toward your spouse: first by deed, second by word, and third by prayer. After years of meditating on all that God had done for me in healing my first marriage, I realized that I used this formula with my wife during the dark days of our divorce. First, I seized every opportunity to do loving acts of service for my wife, from taking care of the house and yard to cleaning out the cat litter box. I also spoke words of hope and healing, love and forgiveness. Lastly, I prayed perseveringly, first for her salvation and secondly for the healing of our marriage.
God used my divorce as a “Damascus Road” experience to show me how I was a sinner so in need of His mercy. How could I not extend this same mercy to the woman to whom I promised “to have and to hold, from this day forward, through sickness and in health, through good times and bad, until death separates?” God in His infinite mercy healed our marriage after eight years of divorce. I was able to continue show my wife mercy through her illness and ultimate death. I am so thankful that God called me to be His instrument of mercy to my wife.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36
God has shown each one of us great mercy. Share His gift with the one who is in most need of His mercy whether it is your spouse or another family member. It will bring healing and hope to any strife that you may be experiencing in your home.
Peace and mercy through our Lord Jesus Christ!