As you read and reflect on today’s beatitude, please listen to this track from contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. We will feature this track throughout Lent.
Many greats have spoken about the blessing of showing mercy. Abraham Lincoln said: “I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice”. William Shakespeare wrote elegantly of how mercy blesses those who give it, along with those who take it:
It [Mercy] 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.”
(The Merchant of Venice)
Jesus rebuked no one as harshly as he rebuked religious leaders for not showing mercy. He warned that if they only knew the Father’s delight in showing mercy, they would not be so quick to condemn others. When Pharisees scolded Jesus for eating with “tax collectors and sinners”, He reminded them of God’s word to the prophets: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (quoting Hosea 6:6 in Matthew 9:13). Jesus reminded them He had come as a “physician” to seek out the “sick” in order to bring mercy and healing (Matthew 9:10-13). Then again, when Jesus was questioned about providing food for the hungry, He restated the Father’s preference for mercy: “I desire mercy not sacrifice” (Matthew 12:7). Mercy is no small matter to Jesus, but one of the “weightier matters of the law” (Matthew 23:23).
God not only shows mercy to the undeserving, He delights in it. In parables about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son (Luke 15), Jesus speaks of the great joy in heaven in showing mercy. In today’s language we might say that mercy is God’s “default setting”, and it must be ours as well! Nothing so demonstrates that we have received mercy as showing that mercy to others.
PONDER AND PRAY
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.”—Matthew 23:23
- What are ways in which you see religiosity, such as practiced by the Pharisees, as keeping people from showing mercy today?
- How do you sense that the Spirit of God might be moving in you to show mercy today to someone undeserving?
- What do You want To Say To God?