(Continued from last time) Person’s work ethic changed over the next several months as he became a successful, confident employee because of his mentor’s example and encouragement. He let others have credit, even if he was instrumental in an accomplishment.
He felt that his improvements were just the beginning though, because he had Prosper’s years of excellence to compare himself to. He knew he was far from capable of running a business or making tough decisions like he saw Prosper doing on a regular basis. It was enough just to change his attitude, for now.
Person enjoyed the time at work now, feeling great about the part he played and the contributions he made. He was able to see that the company benefited from him, and that he was appreciated. His close friend who had known him since high school talked about the progress he made with admiration. They were regular lunch companions and spent time together on occasion after work.
His friend was married to a very stubborn woman who had some issues with spending. She was known to buy more than she could use because an item was “on sale” and she believed it was a great deal. Her financial choices often left them with excess of certain things, and at times there was not enough left for their needs. She did not see the problem, and put blame elsewhere whenever she could. The two fought about money more than any other topic.
To make up the difference financially, the woman began to gamble with their savings. She had some modest success and believed this was a taste of a payoff to come. Being caught in the lure of quick wins and the excitement of taking a big chance, she began to gamble regularly. Over the course of time she cleaned out the savings and increased their debts with credit cards. The stress of this burdened her husband and he worried they would never get out of the cycle they were in.
Person wondered at his friend’s change in attitude, but didn’t pry. It wasn’t obvious what the problem was; on occasion he detected signs of financial trouble from his friend. He knew that his friend lived a modest enough life, and that his wife was a bargain shopper. Still, he could not deny the day that his car was repossessed. His spending habits seemed to indicate there was no money for extras of any sort. Person finally found the courage to broach the subject with him.
In a frank conversation, the two men discussed the financial situation the couple faced. Person asked for specifics about their debt and the amount surprised him. The more they discussed details, the worse his friend’s future looked. Person thought about the situation for several days, trying to come up with an answer to help his friend get out of their financial circumstances. He realized that his apartment might be large enough to also hold the couple.
Person debated what this would mean and thought long on the details involved in offering lodging to the couple. He knew the woman may not agree to it anyway, but felt an offer from him might be a way to help them out of their circumstances. In less than a month the situation became urgent enough that he found himself clearing out space and welcoming new guests. This would be a challenge, but he believed his friend was worth it. (Click here to read the next section of the story.)
—————Thoughts that motivated this section of the story—————
In this story I wanted to reflect on the decision to be merciful
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy
In Matthew 5:7 we read the next part of the Beatitudes, and the next group of people who are considered blessed. This time, it is the merciful. Their reward or the promise they are given is they will obtain mercy. I think people believe mercy involves people with plenty giving something to others, or someone who is whole helping another who is not. I’m not finding that in this verse. If you are merciful, why would you need to obtain mercy?
If we follow the logic of the Beatitude this far, maybe this is what it means. First we come before God without anything to offer. Next we realize our wrong doings, the regrets and failures, and we mourn over that. Then we see we have no right to demand or beg anything from God. We become meek before God without excuse, until we realize we are not condemned because of Jesus, if we choose to believe. Once that happens we deeply want and desire to be different, to be holy like God is and He answers that desire. We begin to shift, to have a heart of mercy.
The mercy we may extend is not from our plenty, and in this story Person was not wealthy. He didn’t have a big house to share, and yet he had enough. To me, mercy is taken from inside of us; it is not easy. It is a gracious response when you have the right to demand, or patience when it is not warranted. My hope lies in the last part of this verse, not in a checklist that now includes one more ‘to do’. It doesn’t matter what I do really, it pales to this statement: You can be forgiven, and you can obtain mercy from God no matter your mistake. That’s why grace is amazing.
Click here to see other stories on the topic of Grace.