"So, what's your spiritual gift?"
We were in a ministry team strategy session with two new team members. Each one of us had taken a spiritual gifts inventory "test." Now we were sharing the results and planning for ministry together.
"Mercy, yes, mercy is my spiritual gift." The gift of mercy is on the Romans 12 list, verse 8.
What is the gift of mercy? What does it do?
One definition I found that is helpful to me:
Mercy: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to feel genuine empathy and compassion for individuals (both Christian and non-Christian) who suffer from distressing physical, mental, or emotional problems, and to translate that compassion into cheerfully done deeds which reflect Christ’s love and alleviate the suffering."
This gift is a practical gift. Those with this gift find themselves visiting and assisting those in need, and often feel the pain of the person they are helping within themself. People with this gift find it extremely difficult not to help those who seem less fortunate than themself. Those with this gift generally enjoy helping those with physical or mental problems and do well in ministries involving visiting hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, and shut-ins. ... Note: The gifts of Helps, Mercy, and Service are often confused. Helps focuses on Christian works and freeing others to accomplish their God-given ministries. Mercy focuses on people in distress and reflects God’s love and compassion. Service focuses on accomplishing little tasks that may otherwise go undone in order to move the greater goal of the ministry or church toward completion.(1)
Time passed. We continued together as a ministry team and I saw how this "mercy gift" worked. It was all about the person with the "gift"! It only worked in public venues so everyone noticed! It wasn't so much about getting under the load of another person's pain as it was about getting the details of that person's pain.
That was a long time ago. Over the years of continuing ministry I have contemplated the gift of mercy. John and I are "neck deep" in church planting (www.arestorationchurch.org) with a special heart for families and individuals with special needs. That - more often than not - gets us almost over our heads in the deep waters of loving and serving others. It means a lot of "mercy-comes-running" ministry!
"Mercy-comes-running" ministry doesn't happen on a convenient schedule.
"Mercy-comes-running" ministry is messy!
"Mercy-comes-running" ministry is exhausting and breaks our hearts!
"Mercy-comes-running" ministry is a heaven-sent privilege to participate in the pain of others - mostly behind the scenes, unheralded.
"Mercy-comes-running" ministry is that often secret and frequently seemingly impossible mission Jesus modeled so well and calls us to join Him in being and doing.
I love Pastor Tullian's phrase, "Mercy comes running!" Mercy DOES come running! That's what Jesus did! That's what He calls us to do! That's who He calls us to be - little mercy-givers who come running!
Lord Jesus, help me to be "mercy-comes-running" in skin today for You!
*title "borrowed" from Pastor Tullian Tchividjian's blogpost on 9/26/2011.
(1) from Gifted2Serve and BuildingChurch.net