There is a remarkable true story about a 21-year-old farm boy from West Virginia who faced his sure death in World War II against the Germans. On his first combat mission, Charles Brown looked outside his crippled B-17 Bomber to see a gray German Messerschmitt just a few feet away, moments from shooting them to smithereens! Brown’s tail gunner was dead and half his crew were wounded. His co-pilot, Spencer “Pinky” Luke, looked out of the window of the plane to see the German and he said, “He’s going to destroy us.” Something amazing happened that December day in 1943. The German took his finger off the trigger and he looked at Brown and nodded. Franz Stigler was an ace fighter pilot for the Germans. At the time, he needed one more kill to win the Knight’s Cross, which was the German’s highest medal of valor. What caused Stigler to deny himself of such an award and risk being executed by the German military? Mercy! Charles Brown would later seek to find the German, Franz Stigler. Brown and Stigler would develop a friendship which would last many many years. They became fishing buddies. All because of one act of mercy!
In the Book of Exodus, God granted mercy on the Israelites. After Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, God prohibited them from serving idols. However, just 40 days later we see the Israelites make for themselves a golden calf breaking their Sinai covenant with God and becoming His enemy (Exodus 32:1-6). God tells Moses He will destroy them for their disobedience (Vv. 7-10). Moses intercedes for them and God shows His mercy and relents (Vv.11-14). In Exodus 34:6-7, we read, “…The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” We can be happy and thankful that we serve a merciful Father who has granted the same mercy upon us when we were once His enemies. Our God is a compassionate and merciful God. But like Franz Stigler, we must also be people of mercy. When we grant mercy, we receive it, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy!” (Matthew 5:7).