Lessons in Mercy from a Shampoo Bottle – pt. 1

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I met today’s guest blogger via Etsy. When Hilary and Matt were planning their wedding, I ordered each of them a “How to Pray for Your Wife/Husband” based on Scripture text from Molly’s site. I had the opportunity to pray for her “online” and we just kinda hit it off.


So much has happened in Molly Garibaldi’s life since then – an expansion and new name for her company: Throne of Grace, an addition of team members to work alongside her and the beginning of their own blog. I’m honored to introduce you to Molly’s heart as she writes today on James 2:12-13.




It was our last family vacation before I left for college. My younger sister, Emmy, and I were sharing our own little casita in the Club Med village, “roughing it” in the jungle of Hualtulco, Mexico. (There was no grocery store or Target to be found, thereby putting the vacation in the “roughing it” category by my definition!) 


But I was not worried, I had come prepared! I had every toiletry and convenience item I could possibly need for the week neatly sorted, labeled, and stored in Ziploc bags and bottles. 


Just enough for the week. 


I was a smart traveler. Rather than bring the whole bottle of shampoo, for example, I had carefully measured out just enough for the week into a smaller, travel-size bottle. 


So you can imagine my annoyance when I got into the shower on Day 2 and discovered my shampoo bottle had been tampered with and a third of the bottle was already missing! Emmy! My sister, in typical fashion, had forgotten her own bottle of shampoo. Emmy thought it was no big deal – she would just share with me! 


“No way, sister!” I was furious! We both exploded! She called me selfish. I called her irresponsible. My sense of justice was on heightened alert. I, as the responsible firstborn, was not about to suffer by running out of shampoo on account of Emmy’s foolish packing-oversight! 


My parents demanded that I share the shampoo that week. I did it grumbling and complaining the whole way. And the honest truth is, I don’t even remember how it all worked out in the end – if and when we ran out of shampoo! But I do remember that I swore I would never make one of my kids pay for another kid’s mistake. 


Because, of course, no one else would ever have to pay for my mistake… 


Hmm…I had a lot to learn about the Gospel!


Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
(James 2:12-13 NIV)


Mercy. It’s a word we hear a lot in spiritual context. Not a word you hear very often in the world.


The word used for mercy here in this passage is the Hebrew word, rachamim, which comes from the Hebrew root, rechem, meaning “a mother’s womb”. Rachamim denotes a tender, compassionate love that stems from pity. A love that shows concern for others- others who have naturally curly hair that quickly turns to dreadlocks when it is not shampooed. Achem!


Look at a simplified biblical definition of mercy.


Mercy = NOT getting what we DO deserve.


The idea of mercy implies judgment. Mercy does not exist unless there is a deserved punishment from which to be spared.


Perhaps this is the reason mercy isn’t talked about so much – even in evangelical churches. Sadly, many churches don’t want to talk about sin and judgment. It’s not pretty! But the truth is that the beauty of our salvation is beautiful because it is a SAVING FROM something.


Spend some time thinking today about what you have been saved from. How has the Lord (and others) shown you mercy when you least deserved it?


Then be sure to check back tomorrow for part 2 as we look at how understanding the mercy we’ve been shown can transform our ability to extend mercy to others.