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Blessed Are The Merciful

By Andy McQuitty

I taught at IBC last Sunday on Jesus’ fifth beatitude, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.” As usual, that relentless clock prevented me from sharing all that I’d wanted to share about the richness and beauty of this wonderful discipleship virtue.

So with your indulgence, I’d just like to add a few nuggets for your edification.  

As an old English major, I so love Shakespeare’s insights about mercy through Portia in “The Merchant of Venice”:

    The quality of mercy is not strain'd, /It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven/Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest; /It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. /‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes/The throned monarch better than his crown. . . (Act 4, scene 1)

These famous lines are true in every way.  Mercy is Heaven’s gentle rain. It comes down from God. It begins in heaven and ends on earth. We deserve God’s punishment for our sin, but he refrained from punishing us. Instead, he assisted us. The gentle rain of Heaven fell on us, and we were forgiven and helped. And forgiven and helped, we were transformed.

    The gentle rain seems a weak thing. But watch it falling on a plot of hard, dry, trampled earth.  After awhile there is a softening, and life begins to push up through the mellowed ground. So with the mind of man. When we let thoughts of divine mercy drop repeatedly on the gardens of our imaginations, our hearts are softened. (Ralph Sockman, The Higher Happiness, p. 111)

As we acknowledge how divine mercy drops repeatedly into the gardens of our lives, how Christ forgives us deeply and helps us repeatedly, our hearts will be softened and we will find ourselves extending forgiveness and help to others. In the words of an anonymous poet:

    Don't find fault with the man
         Who limps or stumbles along the road,
    Unless you've worn the shoes he wears
         Or struggled beneath his load.
    There may be tacks in his shoes that hurt,
         Though hidden away from view
    Or the burden he bears placed on your back
         Might cause you to stumble too.
    Don't sneer at the man who's down today
         Unless you've felt the blow
    That caused his shame or felt the shame
         That only the fallen know
    You may be strong but still the blows
         That were his if dealt to you
    In the same self way and the same self time
         Might cause you to stagger too.
    Don't be too harsh with the man who sins
         Or pelts you with words or stones.
    Unless you are sure, yea, doubly sure,
         That you have not sins of your own
    For you, perhaps, that if the tempter's voice
         Should whisper soft to you
    As it did to him when he went astray
         It would cause you to falter too.

Like Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matt. 5:7). The “gentle rain is twice blest”, blessing him that gives and him that takes and transforming them both in the process! And what an amazing “transformation” that is in these days of IBC’s 5-year vision of “A Transformed People, A Transformed City.”  

Mercy Me, Mercy You, and Mercy Them.

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