Have you ever been in line at the store, and the person ahead of you at the cashier is short by $2.72, and you step up with 3 bucks and say, “I got you covered.”
Which person would you rather do that for—a frazzled mom fumbling four kiddos, a shopping cart, and a handful of coupons, or an irritable, impatient executive rudely demanding that everyone around caters to him?
Remember as a kid being appointed team captain for kickball at recess? You and the other team captain get to pick your teams. If you get the first pick, who would you rather choose—the star performer or the slacker who’s no good and not interested and always gets picked last?
Now let me ask this. Imagine for a moment that you are that irritable, impatient executive short on cash, and someone approaches you, “I got you covered.” Would that change your attitude?
Imagine you’re the one who’s no good at kickball and you get picked first. How would you feel?
Jesus teaches us about mercy. The kind of mercy you just appreciated, but more than that. The kind of mercy he wants you to show others.
Jesus once told a parable about a landowner who needed workers in his vineyard. He “went out early in the morning to hire workers” (Matthew 20:1). But he needed more. So he went out at 9 a.m., 12 Noon, and then at 3 p.m. to hire more workers. By that time in the afternoon, most or all of the workers who were skilled and eager to work had been hired by one of the many landowners.
The landowner still hired. As a matter of fact, at 5 p.m. (with one hour left in the work day) “he went out and found still others” (Matthew 20:6).
God’s mercy doesn’t demand that worthy recipients apply or come find him with a glowing resume. No, God explores, he goes out early to find, he seeks.
God’s mercy sees “still others” besides those his mercy has already saved. God’s mercy is always looking for someone else, some troubled soul who is tempted too much, some disillusioned 27-year-old who has drifted from church, someone not doing for God what they know they should.
The landowner in Jesus’ parable went out. He went out again. He saw others. He found still others.
The landowner represents God and his mercy.
God’s mercy will not give up on you no matter what you have done or how often you have done it.
God’s mercy calls you no matter how ashamed you feel, hiding behind your fears.
God’s mercy sees your struggling friend or straying child no matter how far they live from you.
God’s mercy finds people who aren’t very good at finding him.
He goes out. He sees. He finds. God’s mercy, sinner, has found you.
PRAYER: Dear God, your mercy comes first. Before my faith. Before my goodness. Your mercy is your loving choice to seek and find me even when I’m not at my best. Even when I’m last. Thank you, God, for your mercy on me. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Read the parable of Jesus in Matthew 20:1-7. Note at least 3 words or actions of the landowner that highlight God’s mercy.