On hearing this Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'"
This is how I want to live. I don't want to put my time and energy into sacrificing. The second I go on a diet, or give up something delicious for Lent, all of my focus and energy gets stuck on wanting that: craving Cheetos, obsessing about chocolate. I admire people who can cheerfully do this, offering the sacrifice up to God. But I am not one of them. I get irritable and downright miserable, dragging everyone down around me. I see no grace or blessings in that wretched sink hole.
Instead, if I focus on pouring out mercy on people, I am inspired to help, give of myself, and feel God's presence as I'm doing it. Suddenly my needy kids become a source of purpose, a place where I could pour out mercy twenty-four hours a day and still be able to give more. Now the cranky woman at the grocery store becomes a personal challenge: if I pour out enough kindness on her, maybe she'll smile, or, at the very least, soften. Instead of trying to avoid the difficult mom that I always run into, I make a bee line for her, hoping to show her maybe one silver lining in the slew of problems she's always complaining about.
However, what is critical for me to remember in this "campaign of mercy" is that I can only show as much mercy as I'm willing to accept from God. For it all to be genuine, it has to be God's mercy that I am showing, giving to others, not my own. If it's just my mercy, that well runs dry fast, and I'm left feeling drained, unappreciated, and resentful.
God is always ready and willing to pour out mercy on me, to soak me in it, to drown me in it, if I allow Him to. But I have to ask, and I have to ask big. If I go to Him with a tea cup-sized request, He will fill that tea cup to the brim, so much so that drops spill out. But a tea cup takes minutes to empty. No. I need to go to God with a huge-sized request, a request so large that I'll need a vessel with wheels to contain it so I can still move about when He fills it to the top. It may not be as pretty as my tea cup with dainty roses on it, but if I truly want to be a source of mercy to others, I'm going to God with a wheelbarrow!