“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

– Matthew 9:13

One of the hardest things we are called to do as Christians is to have mercy for people who are mean. There’s a pastor I have listened to (who is actually pretty well-known), and although he’s a good teacher, he’s extremely judgemental
and condemning. Even though he is a minister of the Good News, he is constantly focusing on the
worthlessness of sinners. His story and manner of preaching piqued my curiosity, so one time, I asked a colleague of his about his history. Eager to share what he knew, he said, “Bobby, let me tell you a story.” It turns out that when this guy was around nine years old, he did something bad, and his father, who was known to be very strict, was so upset that he took him out the back door of the house, dragged him across the lawn, chained him to a tree, put a sign around his neck that said “worthless” and left him out there overnight. Can you imagine?

As I thought about how horrendous it must have been for this little boy, who so desperately wanted to earn his dad’s love and respect, to be treated with utter contempt, my heart began to sink. So many things ran through my mind as I imagined him outside in the middle of the night, cold and afraid, that I began to understand why he preached about the worthlessness of others. As he shouted out God’s contempt for wretched sinners, I realized that he was really saying it to himself. Because his earthly father had rejected him, he could not and would not receive the truth that his Heavenly Father loved him. 

Friend, I encourage you to remember that the ones who are hardest on you are usually those who feel the most rejected. Hurting people hurt people, and the more loudly they scream of their contempt for others, the more deeply they despise themselves. You, however, can be an antidote to this cycle of pain by receiving and walking in the unconditional love of Jesus. No matter where you are or what you’ve done, believe that He loves you today. When you do this, the grace that overflows from your life shines light on those around you and you become a beacon of hope, reflecting the glory and goodness of your Savior. Right now, you are accepted and completely loved just as you are; let that sink into your soul and watch what happens!


Help me, Jesus, to receive your unconditional love in my soul every day. Fill me with your Spirit so I can show mercy to those who are mean, with the understanding that they are hurting the most.


When were you last treated meanly? How does seeing the person who hurt you through the lens of mercy change your perspective?

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One Response

  1. And I suppose nothing happened to the father for this child abuse. I remember many types of abuse that never would be allowed now. I am 68.

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