I met a man the other day who told me that he never needs mercy. I knew he was wrong, but I didn’t realize until later how much he needed mercy from me. He needed $1000.00 of mercy in the end. Let me explain.
I had parked my new car in the residential parking without a sticker. It was a Sunday. The car had paper tags (obviously brand new) and the guest parking was completely packed. I thought it would be okay. My husband heard a disturbance and said, “They are towing our car.” I ran down and stopped the driver and told him that was my car. I explained the situation to him. He kept telling me that I was wrong for parking there. I agreed with him and told him that I would pay him for the tow but please don’t tow my brand-new-car and risk damaging it. He lied about me parking there a different night. He said he took a picture but I knew I had not parked there before that night. I begged him not to tow my car because I did not have transportation. My other car was in the shop. I explained that I had to be at the airport at 7:30 the next morning for a mission trip. He absolutely refused. We discussed the situation over a recording that he informed us about. After a long, pointless discussion my husband asked him if he ever needed mercy. He told us “No.” My husband left at that point but I looked straight in his eyes and told him that he did need mercy and he needed it desperately. I told him that I hoped someday he would ask Jesus for mercy and I told him that Jesus would give it to him. At this point he told me he was a Christian and that he was raised by military parents so when he says he didn’t need mercy it was because he never does anything wrong. Then he left with my brand-new car trailing behind him.
After calling Uber and being let off in a seedy side of town late at night, I got my car back and it was not hurt in the process. The next day my husband discovered the city laws and city court regarding towing. It turns out that man broke the city laws by taking my car away after I showed up and claimed it. He was required by law to drop it and let me pay him half the price that I paid at the yard where he took my car. The residence owners called the tow truck company, and the boss quickly brought a full refund check for the tow. Since his driver had broken the city laws, it was now possible for us to win our case of the refund of the tow plus $1,000 for our trouble. Interesting, as I stood there that night I knew that I was on the hook for $168.00 for parking in the wrong place. I had asked for his mercy. The reality is that because of his wrong actions he was on the hook for $1,168. He not only needed the mercy of Jesus, but he needed my mercy on a deeper level than I needed his.
We, every one of us, is desperately in need of mercy. The holiest among us know this most. Even if I did, as the man wrongly claimed, obey every law completely, I would still be in need of mercy. The monks whose lives are mostly about prayer most often pray, “Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.” When they pray this prayer, they are praying for the whole world to receive the mercy of God.
Jesus had a similar conversation with Pharisees who had no idea how desperate they were for His mercy. He was willing to give it. His exposure of their need for mercy proves it. He could have ignored them, especially as he was days away from dying on the cross at their demand. However, He told them the truth about themselves. He told them how desperate they were for mercy:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former (Matthew 23:23).
Who can you show mercy to today? If you have no idea how to serve God today, then find someone to show mercy. He will love that. It was my privilege to show mercy to my rude tow-truck driver. How could I not when Jesus has been so merciful to me?