The Case Of Mercy v. Judgment

I try not to get too topical here and to stay away from hot-button issues, but I couldn’t help but have a reaction today to the news that Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was released from prison on “compassionate grounds” after doctors discovered he has cancer. Of course my initial reaction was outrage and anger at the fact that a convicted terrorist and killer was freed, and I still feel that way. The man ended the lives of 270 people and only served eight years behind bars…roughly 11 days for each of his victims. It’s not hard to see that he did not have to serve the sentence he deserved to serve.

Judge Kenny MacAskill said: “Some hurts can never heal, some scars can never fade. Those who have been bereaved cannot be expected to forget, let alone forgive … However, Mr. al-Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power.” When he was convicted, al-Megrahi was handed judgment; today, he was shown mercy.

After hearing the story on the radio, I couldn’t help but think about the mercy we were shown on the cross. (Literally, this is where my mind went, in my truck, on the way to lunch…) Because God chose to give us His Son, we who believe in Him as our Lord and Savior don’t get the judgment we deserve.  We get the eternal “Get Out Of Jail Free” card…the ultimate act of mercy. We walk free on “compassionate grounds,” despite the fact that we deserve death.

“Mercy triumphs over judgment!” — James 2:13 (NIV)

I still believe that al-Megrahi should spend his last days behind bars, but I can’t help but be fascinated by the Scottish court’s extreme act of mercy.

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Learning To Forgive

I’m generally not one to hold grudges; really I’m not. There are only a few instances in my life where I’ve held a grudge for a long time…and most of them have involved Steve Spurrier. I’ve often joked that I only stay angry at someone for two hours, but in reality I can let go of something after a day or two. One of my prayers for myself for 2009 is to forgive more instantly.

I just realized that I’ve typed an odd phrase…”more instantly,” but I simply can’t think of another way to describe it. I don’t just want to say “more quickly.” It seems like it’s practically impossible to forgive instantly, but I hope to be able to let things go sooner than I do. I don’t want to hold on to something for a few hours…or even a few minutes. I don’t want to suffer the effects of unforgiveness at all…not even for a short period of time. I want to forgive and do it quickly; whether somebody hurts my pride, insults my intelligence, or cuts me off in traffic, I want to be able to forgive and let it go right then and there.

Will I ever get to that point? The human side of me says probably not soon and maybe never, but with God all things are possible. We’ll see…