In our church Bible study group we looked at the speech written by William Shakespeare for the character of Portia in ‘the Merchant of Venice’. It begins with the words ‘the quality of mercy is not strained’. It’s beautiful poetry but as Christians you can soon spot that Shakespeare obviously knew his Bible quite well. Mercy is a gift to others but it blesses the giver as well. It is a quality that comes from God. We must give mercy if we are to have the mercy from God that we all need. The Good News Bible has this translation of Matthew 5:7; ‘Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them’.
Jesus taught many times that having received forgiveness of our sins we are expected to forgive others who sin against us. If we don’t then it seems that we set a divine law in action whereby we ourselves will eventually receive judgment rather than mercy. When we are forgiven we have a second chance to live according to the laws of the King of kings.
The greatest examples of mercy are shown in the life of Jesus, our Lord. I was reading the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) where the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees wanted to Him to choose between having her stoned to death or letting her go unpunished. Jesus allowed her to have a second chance to put her life right with God.
Jesus asked God the Father to forgive those who were crucifying him. He had compassion on the suffering and the sick and broke people free from the curses of the Devil.
I wonder how I can show mercy to others around me. It could be in the seemingly small matters of life. I might feel perfectly justified in pouring scorn and ridicule on someone who makes a silly mistake(one that I wouldn’t make). It might be that I join in the general criticism of someone in the church when I could put in a good word for them instead. I know Jesus is challenging me to try and live as a true disciple of His.
Prayer: Please remind me, Lord, when You would prefer me to be non-judgmental, kind and merciful instead of being a harsh critic of others. Help me to remember how much mercy You have shown me. I want to live according to Your standard not the one of the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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