The word “mercy” takes me back. To the living room of our friends, Clete and Pam. The small group Bible study they hosted was the first I ever attended. Pam had the gift of hospitality and Clete was an excellent Bible teacher, adept at facilitating discussions so everyone got a chance to contribute, not just the conversation hogs. Clete and Pam’s home group had a bonus feature. Because two of the members played guitar, we always began our time together with three to four worship songs. I loved that group.
One evening we studied spiritual gifts. We took a quiz then one at a time we shared our results. The group was supposed to comment on each person’s answer.
When it was Ann’s turn, I spoke before she had a chance. “Your gift is mercy.”
Her eyebrows flew up. “How did you know?”
“Because you talk a ton about your pets, and all animals really. I’d be willing to bet most if not all animal-lovers have the gift of mercy. I think a passionate love of animals reveals a tender heart toward those who cannot repay the kindness shown them.”
We went on to discuss how even though animals cannot reimburse us for the food, shelter, or veterinary costs we incur on their behalf, they absolutely offer something of value—unconditional love. The benefits of licks, snuggles, and tail-wagging are priceless. They can make happy people happier, and they can lift the spirits of those saddened by grief or difficulty.
The interesting thing is, I know a few individuals who are merciful toward animals but not toward people. I think it goes back to the unconditional love displayed by animals. Animals succeed relationally where many humans fail.
Think how beautiful this world would be if we all showed mercy to one another. And what if everyone was faithful to display unconditional love? If that happened, I think the world would be pretty close to perfect.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. ~ 1 Peter 4:8