Mountain lions chilling under a ledge at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Mercy enough to share

Do you ever wonder why writers repeat words or phrases? Or why public speakers introduce, summarize, and wrap up their talks by repeating their points? On one hand, repetition is a literary device. Sometimes it makes paragraphs easier to read or it can help the flow of the text. But the main reason si because it helps people remember. If a point is important, both a writer or a public speaker is going to emphasize it. This is true in Scripture too. If you see a word repeated in close proximity, slow down and pay attention because it’s important. And it works the same way with concepts. If you run across a concept that is repeated, you might want to take it seriously because repetition means it’s important.

So, have you picked up on any recurring themes in this study of what matters to God? What about doing what’s right? What about living humbly? What about loving mercy? Today’s verse echoes one I already touched on.

Mountain lions chilling under a ledge at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Mountain lions chilling under a ledge at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Matthew 5:7.

God blesses those who are merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.

Love mercy. We’re supposed to love mercy so much that we look for opportunities to share it. But unlike our last passage about loving mercy, Micah 6:8, Jesus gives us more of a reason why we need to, other than it’s what God requires. We’re supposed to be merciful because we will be shown mercy. And what’s more, you’ll be happy if you show mercy.

Sounds simple enough, right?

Oh, but don’t forget human nature. Human nature is not so easily thwarted. We’re not geared to show mercy. We love to receive it, but showing it is a different story. It feels so good to pounce, to overreact, to jump to conclusions about someone who has hurt your feelings. At least, it feels good at first. But if you’re a Christ-follower, that good feeling won’t last because pretty soon the Holy Spirit is going to start talking to you, and He’s going to start pointing out why you shouldn’t have done it.

Why? Well, friends, because if you follow Christ, you will be shown mercy at the end of your life, but you also receive mercy every day you wake up. Every time you jump to the wrong conclusion or attack an innocent, whether in your mind or out loud, or think something you shouldn’t, Christ’s mercy paid for all of that on the cross. We are still benefiting from Christ’s mercy today.

And if God can show us that kind of mercy, why can’t we extend mercy to someone else? It doesn’t matter what they’ve done. It doesn’t matter what they’ve said. Give them a break. If you were in their position, wouldn’t you want someone to stop being so hard on you? I’m not saying to lower your expectations because that doesn’t help anybody. But there’s no need to jump down someone’s throat because of a mistake.

Maybe it’s the time of year, but I swear everyone is walking around half-angry all the time. I’ve noticed people get like that around here as winter is on the way out and spring is on the way in. Here in Kansas, the weather can never make up its mind. It will be 70 one day and 30 with ice the next, and when you’re really looking forward to life coming back to the world, waking up to see everything coated in half an inch of ice can be dispiriting. So maybe that’s why people have such short fuses.

But it’s no excuse, especially for a Christ-follower.

We have been shown mercy through Christ’s sacrifice. For us to withhold mercy from someone else is prideful and selfish and arrogant. Yes, mercy has many forms, but chief among them is love. However you react, make sure you’re reacting in love. Speak truth, but speak it in love. Do right, but do it in love. Don’t compromise, but reach out with love. I fully believe that half of mercy is how you show it. Again, it all goes back to attitude, because if you’re demonstrating mercy to someone without loving them, it won’t make a difference to either of you.

Attitude isn’t easy to hide. It shows in everything you do, everything you say, and people can tell more about you by how you react than you think they can. And those who don’t believe are always watching.

So no matter how someone has hurt you, don’t strike back. Show mercy. Love them anyway and forgive them. It will be good for you, and it will be good for them, even if it feels like a sacrifice. And if it feels like your sacrifice is going unrewarded, remember what Christ has done for you and remember the future you’ve been promised. You have mercy aplenty coming your way. You have enough to share.