Daily Prayer Reflection: How far does our mercy extend?

But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as (also) your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you. Luke 6:35-38

It's a tough day for mercy for some, I imagine. This morning, the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize was announced and I truly believe the news shocked the majority of the world. There are those who will revel in the excitement of this announcement, and others who will spew venom. It is the latter half that this morning's prayer seems aptly fitting for.

It is no accident that the Holy Spirit led me to this passage this morning - I myself was astounded by the news. As I sat with these words of Christ, the question that kept popping in my head (after the "Whaaat?" from the headline), was "how far does my mercy extend?" coupled with the reminder that it is not for us to judge the heart of another. Actions...sure. But we won't go into the specifics here - I want to focus on the heart of the prayer.

How far does mercy extend? Are we able to set aside our own judgments to let God work through us? Are we too quick to jump to conclusions and spew forth our opinions, whatever they may be? In this passage from Luke, Jesus reminds us that it is easy to love and forgive those who love us, those whom we love. The greater task of our Christian walk is to extend that same charity and mercy to those we do not have affection for, for those who may offend us at every turn.

In the end, the only actions we can truly control are our own. As much as we can influence others and pray that they may act wisely, we cannot act for them. Let our actions always reflect God's endless mercy and forgiveness. We can be skeptics and critics, but let it be of actions and not the core of a person, and let our criticism always be bathed in charity. Let us remember always that God is the one and only judge, and we are best left sometimes to hold our tongue and extend our hearts.