Happy are the merciful, for they will have mercy shown to them! Matthew 5:7
Years ago when I was a child we use to play a game called “mercy” where we tried to bend back the fingers of one another in a display of ego and strength. When the one who was defeated had all they could take they had to yell “mercy” in order to be released from the painful position they were experiencing. Looking back at it that game wasn’t about mercy, it was about pride. When you see the word “mercy” what do you think of?
Today, I think of that fact that because there’s no limit to God’s mercy—no sin too great to forgive, no debt too large to pardon—there should be no limit to the mercy I give others! Yet such generosity never begins with us. As John Piper says, “Mercy comes from mercy. Our mercy to each other comes from God’s mercy to us.” Those who have experienced such great leniency stand ready and willing to pardon others and are blessed for it. A life marked by this kind of radical forgiveness reveals a heart that loves God and seeks to please Him.
Not long ago, several news outlets carried the story of a man named Balal, an Iranian convict sentenced to death for the murder of 18-year-old Abdollah Hosseinzadeh. According to the local laws, Balal’s execution was to be carried out with the help of Abdollah’s family. But things didn’t go as planned. Marched before the angry crowd, Balal was made to stand on a chair, and a noose was wrapped around his neck. But then, Abdollah’s mother walked forward. She slapped Balal, with tears streaming down her face, and then she removed the noose.
Effectively, in a legal sense, she pardoned him of his crime and showed radical mercy. But mercy has an everyday quality, too. And in fact, this everyday mercy may be just as urgently needed in our world as the kind that seems superhuman. Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Now, instead of applying that verse in the grand scale, let’s imagine it in ordinary circumstances: the drink spilled at the dinner table, the insensitive comment from a co-worker, the presumptive demands of our children or our spouse. It’s “glory to overlook an offense,” and it’s a kind of everyday, mundane mercy, too.
How might it change the climate of our homes and workplaces if, more often than not, we just let go of our offenses? How might it change our relationships if we’re known to be a constant source of mercy instead of anger, and kindness instead of retribution? It’s not simply something we need to do begrudgingly; it’s truly a better way. We’re “blessed” to be merciful. By trusting Jesus’ words, we’re invited to discover how mercy is a truly better way to live.
This Sunday at South Side we will take a look at Matthew 5:7 and learn how we can make a difference in our lives and the lives of others by being merciful! We invite you to come worship with us at 10 a.m. and to visit us on the web at: www.southsidewch.com.
South Side Church of Christ
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