Tuesday, May 25, 2010

THE MOTIVATIONAL GIFT OF SHOWING MERCY

". . . if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."

Mercy.  If you say it with a slow and thoughtful approach the word melts through your mouth. Mercy.  We cannot live without it.  Grace should be like the air we breathe and mercy should ooze from our being.  Mercy.  We deserve punishment and death but what we get is Mercy.  Mercy is scandalous.  Mercy is unfair.  Mercy is the Cross.

The Motivational Gift of Showing Mercy is the last in the list.  It might interest you to know that there are more people operating in this gift than any other.  Rightly so.  And here's why: without mercy we would die. Bottom line. We serve a merciful God who calls us to His mercy and requires us to be merciful in return.  Now, as with all the gifts, and even though this gift shows up the most, there are still those of us who do not score so high in Mercy.  Like me . . . and prophets.  I talked earlier in this study about how we are to cultivate all of the motivational gifts in our life even though they do not all come so naturally to us.  Prophets are to learn to be merciful.  Administrators are to practice serving.  Servers must learn to Lead and so on.  And, Mercy people need to learn the tough love approach of a Prophet.

If you scored high in the Motivational Gift of Showing Mercy here are some things you might want to know about yourself.  If the Prophet sees everything in black and white, you see the human landscape in shades of gray.  Even if the person has no justifiable reason for his/her distress or trouble, you understand that they are in pain...and that's enough to motivate you to action.  You do not apply hard and fast rules or reasons to life.  For instance, you would never say, "He or she committed a sin and that is the reason for their trouble.  They need to get back into God's word, repent and seek forgiveness."  End of story.  And, although all of that is probably true in most cases, you know that things just aren't that simple and that human nature needs guidance and love and renewed hope and an understanding ear . . . and time.   Time for the human spirit to heal enough to make its way back to God and His word.  You know that there are complex reasons for whatever condition we're in and you show God's mercy by being merciful.  That's you.  You have the ability to empathize with people.  You feel what they feel and you grieve with them . . . or, rejoice with them.  You are drawn to the underdog and the downtrodden -- the hurting, the lonely, the aged, the ill, the dying.  And, likewise, they are drawn to you.  You are willing to deal with those people who have needs that most other people feel uncomfortable dealing with.  You are generally soft-spoken, a good listener, peaceable and agreeable.  You tend to make decisions based on your feelings rather than facts, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  At your best (when you are being led by the Spirit) you take your time making those decisions which gives the Holy Spirit time to guide your feelings.  The downside to operating strongly in this gift is that because you are drawn to and attract the downtrodden and the underdog, these same people have a tendency to use you.  You have a hard time setting boundaries with people which perpetuates the using.  If you were more hard and fast with people, like the Prophet is, then you wouldn't get used by people, but then who would show the rest of us mercy.    Others accuse you of being too soft and compromising.  It's not the downtrodden you find troubling or difficult, it's the prophet motivated people that exasperate you.

The fact that there ARE so many Mercy motivated people, means we all KNOW many Mercy motivated people.  I confess that I have thought the following of some of my Mercy motivated friends: "She is too compromising with so and so...If she is being used and walked on she has only herself to blame for not setting some boundaries..."  I also confess, however, that when I need mercy the most (which is often) I pray for it, I seek it with my whole being and I love it when I'm shown mercy.  I am learning to be more merciful as I grow in the Lord.  In fact, "becoming more merciful" is synonymous with "growing in the Lord."  I know this guy who was tragically born without a mercy bone (I'll call him "my husband").  He said as we were discussing the topic of mercy, "If I didn't have to be merciful, I wouldn't be."  To God's credit, "this guy" has become a man of mercy even though he operates in the Motivational Gift of Prophecy.  To God's credit, he recognizes the mercy he's been given and that fact alone, through time, has shaped him into a person of mercy.  God asks very little of us while we're on this planet, but He does ask us to show mercy.  "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8, NIV, bold italics mine)  Seriously, who among us hasn't needed mercy in this life?  Who among us hasn't found themselves hurting, alone, scared, troubled or sick at some point in their life?  Mercy.  It is essential and crucial.

Most pastors are gifted with Showing Mercy.  It makes sense that God would equip pastors this way and I've come to appreciate this quality more than I can say.  When you're hurting or suffering or in trouble it's a natural inclination to seek out your pastor, or a pastor.  At those times you're not needing to be yelled at or scolded.  What you need at that moment of vulnerability is someone who will listen to you, pray with you and understand how life. gets. so. very. difficult.  Sometimes correction is needed, but it's always been my experience that God gives mercy first and then corrects and then gently and powerfully restores me to a safe and healthy journey.  I have a dear friend in my life that I've known for years and years -- VERY gifted with mercy.  So much so that in her earlier years she'd cry and grieve over a bug that was unnecessarily squashed.  It PAINED her to thin out a flower bed (you know...the whole loss of life thing).  I remember we had an old pine tree in our yard that was way too big.  It was EXTREMELY messy dropping all those needles and pine cones everywhere. It always took an entire day and umpteen garbage bags to clean up underneath that big 'ol tree.  I'd had enough and determined life was too short to spend this much time cleaning up after a messy tree; AND it was in a terrible spot in the yard.  It was reasonable to me.  Upon telling her how we were thinking of having it cut down I got a heartfelt lecture on why we shouldn't be killing God's creatures.  As it turns out, the tree remained.  Over time she learned to temper her gift so as to see some situations with more reasonable eyes.  It's this deeply heartfelt mercy that causes her to NOT give out what is deserved to all that live around her.  To me, the tree no longer deserved to live because it made my life difficult.  To her, though it may have deserved to be cut down, she helped me understand that it is alive . . . just like me . . . that it needs patience and understanding . . . just like me . . . that it has the ability to praise the Lord . . . just like me.  To this day, she lives out her stunning gift of Mercy with everyone around her and God uses her to bring great comfort to the hurting.  Mercy.  It is of great consequence.

Let's look at an example from scripture: The Good Samaritan, the quintessential Mercy person.  "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead...But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him."  (Luke 10:30, 33-34, NIV)  Beautiful picture.  Others walked away but he moved in close to help.  What if this person, robbed and left for dead, was you?  How badly would you need this Samaritan full of mercy to come and help you?  I don't know...I'd like to think that I would help someone in this condition, but I get scared...what if the offenders are still around and I'm the next victim?  I might just walk away assuming that someone else would stop and help...and then I'd regret it for the rest of my life.  To the one gifted with the motivation of Showing Mercy, I'm sure my reaction is completely unreasonable and makes no sense.  As I said earlier, I'm learning to be more merciful.  What seems like it should be as easy and as natural as walking or thinking or breathing, isn't always.  When I NEED mercy, I only know I NEED it.  When it comes time for me to give it out, God help me.  Mercy.  It is dangerous and risky.

If you scored high in the Motivational Gift of Showing Mercy here's what you need to do.  First, you need to know the absolutes of God's word.  Seeing life in shades of gray is truly a beautiful thing, but some things are black and white.  Some behaviors are listed as sin in God's word and must be dealt with as such.  Sometimes people need the hard truth even if it feels like it will hurt them.  Second, work towards long term solutions for those you desire to help.  Mercy is an answer in itself, but it is only the starting place.  Remember, God shows mercy first, then corrects and restores.  Third, set boundaries for yourself and know that it is ok to do so.  Showing mercy does not equal showing yourself naïve.  If possible, come alongside someone who will mentor you and help you evaluate the intentions of others. If you could learn to work with a prophet motivated person and he with you, the balance between you would be stunning.  Fourth, if you're not careful and wise with people, this gift of Showing Mercy can become sympathy instead of empathy and where real and honest help is desperately needed ends up looking like enabling.  The Holy Spirit will help you know when to be tough enough to make them stand and will equip you to do so, so daily seek His wisdom.  In love and truth your gift of mercy will shine!  Fourth, and regarding those with the Motivational Gift of Prophesy, learn from them and don't disregard them.  If two types of people ever needed each other in this world, it's you two.  And . .  the Body of Christ depends on both of you equally.

This concludes the study of the Motivational Gifts of the Spirit.  Allow me to recap just a bit.  The Motivational Gifts of the Spirit are different than the Fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22.  God gives each of us at least one strong Motivational Gift and we are to work at cultivating and practicing the others.  The Fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) are developed in us by the Holy Spirit.  As we walk out our faith and our life, the Holy Spirit will develop in us the ability to exhibit the fruits.  Whereas we may not always exhibit each of the gifts, we must make a conscious effort, with the help of the Holy Spirit, of course,  to practice them.  If you haven't taken the Gifts Assessment test yet, one is located it in the sidebar on the left.  Remember when taking it that you must go with your initial gut reaction to each question.  Do not labor over the questions.  When finished and the test is scored, look for your top 3.  If one of the top 3 is Pastor/Evangelist then throw that one out and use the fourth highest score as your number 3.  I'm not disregarding the importance of Pastor/Evangelist, it's just that it's not one of the 7 Motivational Gifts of the Spirit listed in Romans 12.  Upon looking for a Gifts Assessment test that only covered the Motivational Gifts listed in Romans 12, this was the best online test I could find that didn't take a lifetime to complete.

Mercifully,
Kerry

NOTE:  The description of each gift is based on the highest score possible for an individual.  You may find that only certain things are true for you and the rest is only true to a certain measure.  We are individuals created by an infinitely creative God.  We do not fit any certain mold.  These descriptions help you to understand why you see things a certain way, why you act a certain way and why some things are more important to you than other things.  Most of us will score fairly high in 2 or 3 gifts and how these gifts rank and what God has you involved in at the time will determine how well these gift descriptions speak to your individual personality.

2 comments:

sweetannieskitchenblog said...

I honestly cannot remember if this came out as one of my top ones, but I think if it didn't I did something wrong. This is definitely one of my spiritual gifts. I like the kind of person this gift makes me. And I think certain situations in my life have helped me to balance this gift really well. But it's not always easy. :) Thanks for writing about these gifts. It's been fun to learn about all of them!

R.G. Bethel said...

This was very helpful and insightful. I notice those with the gift of mercy not quite understanding those who are very strong in prophecy .. Thanks