How aware are you of the mercy of God? You can test yourself by observing how merciful you are toward those around you. [Remember: our theology—our functional (not merely theoretical) beliefs about God—is the fountain from which the rest of our lives flow.]
- Do you relate to your spouse (and child/ren, co-workers, neighbors, etc.) with mercy?
- Or, are you easily irritated and characteristically impatient?
- Do you treat your spouse as guilty until proven innocent?
- Are you exacting and hyper-critical?
- Do you send your spouse on guilt trips when their mistakes or interruptions put you out?
If these describe you, the problem is that you are not living with a significant awareness of God’s great mercy toward you. Would you want God to relate to you the way you relate to others?
It’s easy to see how essential mercy is to sinners who’ve said “I do.”
So, what is mercy?
Harvey describes it well when he says that mercy “means [God’s] kindness, patience, and forgiveness toward us. It is his compassionate willingness to suffer for and with sinners for their ultimate good.” (79)
He goes on to unpack the importance of mercy this way:
Do you know God as a God of mercy? Do you see your spouse as God sees him or her—through eyes of mercy? If your answer to either question is no, it is unlikely that your marriage is sweet. Mercy sweetens marriage. Where it is absent, two people flog one another over everything from failure to fix the faucet to phone bills. But where it is present, marriage grows sweeter and more delightful. … Mercy sweetens the bitterness out of relationships—especially marriage. ...
Have you ever thought that passing along God’s mercy may be one of the main reasons you’re married? Think about it like this: Marriage is a place where two sinners become so connected that all the masks come off. It’s not only that we sometimes put on our best faces in public, it’s that when we’re married we see each other in all kinds of situations, including some very difficult ones. All the wonderful diversity (in this case, a polite word for our personal quirks, weaknesses, and sin patterns) that was kept refined and subdued before the wedding tumbles out of the closet after the honeymoon. We begin to see each other as we really are—raw, uncensored, and in Technicolor. If our eyes are open, we discover wonderful things about our spouses that we never knew were there. We also discover more of the other person’s weaknesses. … Without mercy, differences become divisive, sometimes even “irreconcilable.” But deep, profound differences are the reality of every marriage. It’s not the presence of differences but the absence of mercy that makes them irreconcilable. (80-81, emphasis mine)
I hope this question rings in your ears: "Have you ever thought that passing along God’s mercy may be one of the main reasons you’re married?" Seek to live life in view of the mercies of God, so that you will be an active and generous conduit of God's mercy to your spouse!… Mercy is given to be shared. And what it touches, it ultimately sweetens. We are to pass along what we have received from God—steadfast love, inexplicable kindness, overflowing compassion. We sinned against God and he responded with mercy. We are called to go and do the same. (83, emphasis mine)