Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. – Matthew 5:7 NIV
When I was in grade school, I always wanted to have a real birthday party – you know, when you invite the whole class at school. Every year when I asked, though, my mother’s answer was always the same: “No.” Maybe the class size of nearly fifty had something to do with it.
“Please, Mom,” I’d plead. “Everyone else has one. Why do I always have to be different?”
No amount of begging, whining, or pouting, however, changed her mind. Her lopsided cakes were for family only.
One year, though, I was determined to have the kind of party I wanted, in spite of my mother’s usual “no.” So I invited all the kids in my third grade class to come to my house on Saturday, November 5, for my birthday party. My mother, of course, knew nothing about it.
I bowled in a youth bowling league on Saturday mornings, and when I left the house that day, I still hadn’t told my mother about the party. The walk home after bowling was the longest walk I ever took in my life! I trudged the eight blocks home in the cold, damp November wind, thinking of how much trouble I was going to be in once the kids started showing up at my door.
Not only was I going to be in the doghouse at home, but I’d be the laughing stock of the whole school once word got out about the party with a lopsided cake, and not enough ice cream and pop. Don’t even mention games. That was not my mother’s forte.
When I stepped into the dining room at few minutes before two – the time I told everyone to come – I gasped in surprise. There in the middle of the table, set for a party, was a big, decorated birthday cake!
“How did you find out?” I blurted to my mother.
“Vivian’s mother called to ask me what time your party started,” she said.
Thank you, Mrs. Bludis, I thought, breathing a sigh of relief.
“We’ll talk about this after the party,” my mother said quietly as someone knocked. “Go answer the door.”
For the next three hours, I tried to ignore the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I’d probably be grounded for the rest of my life. When the last guest left, I hurried to help clean up, grateful to my mom for helping me save face and hoping my initiative would lessen my punishment.
“What would you have done if Mrs. Bludis hadn’t called?” my mother asked me after we were done.
“I didn’t understand how important this was to you. I’m sorry,” Mom said, “but I hope you realize you were wrong to go behind my back.”
As it turned out, my only punishment was three agonizing hours imagining what my just desserts would be when I could have been enjoying my birthday party.
My mother taught me an important lesson in mercy that day. While it isn’t easy to forgive someone who has done something wrong, showing undeserved kindness blesses both the giver and the receiver, and brings healing to broken relationships.
I deserved justice. Instead I received a birthday present I never forgot.
Thank you, God, that Your mercies are new every morning. I sure need them everyday. Amen.
Read and reflect on Matthew 18:21–35.