The Quality Of Mercy

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."   (Matthew 5:7 NIV)

There was once a man who owed another man a great deal of money. The borrower had been repaying his lender faithfully for several months. Then he was hurt on the job and could no longer work. He had some insurance, but it was barely enough for him and his family to survive. The lender saw all of this and, in spite of the fact that the man still owed many thousands of dollars, he instantly and quietly forgave the debt.

The quality of mercy is not strain'd.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

The Bard certainly had it right. Mercy, indeed, blesses both the one who gives and the one who receives. Mercy is not only a quality in God, but a quality that he demands from his people.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines mercy as "compassionate treatment, especially of those under one's power." We are under the power of God -- believers and non-believers alike. Mercy is the foundation of God's covenant with his creation. It is the driving force that helps Him forge his relationship with His children.

Our God is a merciful God.

"I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us -- yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses."   (Isaiah 63:7 NIV)

While God shows us mercy, He also directs us to show mercy to others. The "compassionate treatment" that defines mercy includes forgiveness. No matter what someone does to you, God directs you to forgive them and not to seek retribution.

"Do not hate your brother in your heart... Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself...."   (Leviticus 19:17-18 NIV)

This familiar refrain was repeated by Jesus a thousand years later.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."   (Mark 12:30-31 NIV)

Forgiveness and mercy go hand in hand with both God and man. The two are inseparable because the prerequisite of forgiveness is mercy. Without mercy on earth, there can be no forgiveness in Heaven.

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."   (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV)

O God, Father of all things, we thank you for the infinite mercy you have shown us, your children. May we love one another as you have loved us. Give us strength so that we may forgive our transgressors as you have forgiven us. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

[ by Charles Edwin Price -- from 'Themestream' ]


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