Today: Thursday, November 21, 2019
 
 

Being merciful: it isn't easy    (2/23/2014 )



Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

‘Merciful’ - it’s not a word we use much these days, is it? The dictionary suggests several meanings for ‘mercy’ - kindness, compassion, benevolence, or lessening/cancelling a bad outcome. These are words we can better understand.

We probably all commit little acts of kindness, compassion and benevolence every day. Giving a friend a lift to the hospital, helping a child look for a toy, or making a cup of coffee for a colleague. These are all good things to do, and we’re good people, right?

Well, these are good things to do, but they’re also easy things to do. Most acts of kindness are well within our reach, and only require a quick decision about whether to do them or not. 

My feeling is that Jesus was talking about more than this. His mercy for us took him to the cross; it demanded that he give everything for us; his whole life. If he is our example, then we must look at what it involved. It was sacrificial. It caused pain. It wasn’t what he would have chosen to do. It certainly wasn’t easy

But Jesus did it for both reasons of the word ‘mercy’: out of compassion for us (because we’re lost without God), and to cancel a bad outcome for us (if we’re not right with God, we don’t get to have eternal life with him). So while we may not be expected to show mercy in such an extreme way ourselves, we should understand that real mercy doesn’t come easily. It takes us out of our comfort zone, and requires sacrifice. 

This week, I met a man who lives in Britain but whose family lives in their home country of Syria. When the conflict there started 3 years ago, he called his father to say he was coming to be with them. His father said,  ‘But we don’t need more people here. Syrians need food and medical treatment.”

So this man started asking people he knew in the UK for money and medical supplies to send to Syria. Word spread, and soon complete strangers were coming to knock on his door to offer help. That man now runs a highly effective humanitarian aid agency which takes vital aid to the most hard-to-reach, most desperate people in Syria. It has come at a cost: his business failed because he couldn’t focus on it any more. When he goes to Syria, he says it’s terrifying. He spends long periods away from his home and family. 

This man has shown real mercy. It’s been a steep learning curve; it’s scary; and it has come at a personal cost. But how many lives has he saved or changed? Not only has he shown compassion, he has lessened/cancelled many bad outcomes.

We aren't all called to do things so significant. But we can learn from Jesus and this man. We have received mercy from God, out of love; how are we going to pass it on? 

Mercy is powerful enough to make a real difference in someone’s life. We may not have the opportunity to be merciful very often, but let us pray that we don’t miss the opportunity when it comes.




Pray: Lord, you showed such mercy to humankind. Help me to be a reflection of that love you have for us, and help me to be merciful to others. Amen. 

Think about: If those who are merciful on earth are shown mercy by God, does that mean we should do it for reward? Or do we already have the reward?

Challenge: Never stop those small acts of kindness. But when God asks you to show mercy to someone, will you hear him, and act?

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