Have you ever known a “mercy” person – that is, a person with the spiritual gift of mercy? I know it sounds like a cop-out, but due to the way I’m wired up, I really have to work hard to carry the attributes of a “mercy person.”
My younger daughter is a good example of a “mercy person.” She is wired up to care about any living thing. The only creature I can think of that she despises and fears is the bee. She will scream and run from any bee sighting. It’s an unnatural fear and quite dramatic. However, a few weeks ago at the pool, she saw a bee struggling in the water. It was a beautiful picture of her giftings vs. her fears – so I watched from a distance.
She cautiously swam up as close as her fear would allow to inspect the condition of the bee. Within a few seconds, her concern for a hurting critter won out and she leapt from the pool to gather a large pink flower from the nearby bushes. She jumped back in the water and carefully scooped the bee from the water with the flower and then took the tiny patient to the smooth tiles along the side of the pool. She began to gently blow on the wings of the bee in an effort to speed the healing. I wondered if she was even thinking about the fact that her lips were only inches from this buzzing insect that only minutes before she was deathly afraid of.
Within a few minutes, the bee flew off into the beautiful blue, Florida sky – and my daughter was filled with glee. She jumped up and came over, all excited, to tell what had just happened (she wasn’t aware that I was watching the whole incident).
I remember being amazed at how her inner makeup overcame one of her few nine-year-old fears and, as a result a life was saved. Ha – well, I bet the bee was happy about it.
In today’s reading of James chapter 2, I once again started thinking about the gift of mercy vs. fears. I love James’ writing style (especially in the New Living Translation). Take a look:
14 Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone. 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well” but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all it is dead and useless. 18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” I say, “I can’t see your faith if you don’t have good deeds, but I will show you my faith through my good deeds.”
Did you catch the first part of verse 18: “…some may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.'” James is refuting the popular excuse that “I don’t have the gift of mercy – so I’ll leave that to those that do.”
Like my young daughter, I have plenty of fears and excuses for not helping the poor, the hungry and the naked. I’d much rather practice my faith in other ways. I’d much rather leave that to those with “the gift.”
But, James calls my pathetic excuses on the carpet with verse 17: “Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all it is dead and useless.”
So – what to do? How can we put our faith “where our mouth is?” For me, I just needed the reminder from God’s word. No more excuses – I need to put my faith into action. Does it have to be in the area of serving the poor, hungry and naked? Well – that’s between you and God – but I do seem to remember another passage where Jesus rebukes those who never came to visit Him in prison, give him water when He was thirsty, etc.
Watching my daughter overcome her powerful fear of stinging insects to save a life has really reminded me that I have a job to do (not a job to just talk about).
Lord, forgive me of my excuses. I want to serve You by serving others. Increase my faith and my love for others. Help me to focus on someone besides myself. You have blessed me with so much – I want to bless others in turn.