My friend and I were messing around, as 5 and 7 year-old boys are apt to do. Then we broke his grandmother’s favorite decoration. Naturally we did what boys do, we tried to fix it. We couldn’t. It was porcelain and we had broke it beyond our ability to repair. Even after it was glued back together (later), you could tell someone broke it. So next we tried to hide it. Only Ms. Alice didn’t keep a lot of decorations in her living room. We knew she’d see it. So we did what boys do next. We told Ms. Alice, who was in the kitchen, that we were going next door to play with the neighbor kids. In other words, we ran for it.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. -Matthew 5:7, ESV
We stayed gone all day. But as it was getting towards late afternoon, we had to go back. My mom and dad would be picking me up. After all, Ms. Alice kept me so my parents could both work. We snuck into the house. No Ms. Alice waiting in the living room! We were safe. But then we saw the repaired decoration. She knew. We were done for.
Ms. Alice didn’t say anything that day. The next morning, however, she sat us down for breakfast. “I know what you boys did,” she started. Then she explained that she wasn’t going to punish us, this time. She knew it was an accident but we didn’t tell her when it happened. That was where we were wrong. My friend and I were about as happy as we could be. Ms. Alice was a stern lady. You didn’t mess around in her house. And yet there we were, not in trouble. At the time I didn’t understand mercy. In hindsight, that’s exactly what she showed us.
God showed us unbelievable mercy when, by His grace, He made a way for us to be forgiven for our sins. Many times He commands us to forgive and He always sticks the proviso in that we must forgive to be forgiven by Him. Forgiveness, without looking for revenge or retaliation, is mercy. The other person may deserve punishment, but we don’t deliver. We don’t deliver because we know how much we ourselves are reliant on God’s mercy and how He commands us to be merciful, like Him.
If you want God’s mercy, you must be merciful. In this world, we hear a lot about getting even. There are plenty of movies and stories where this is the central plot. They tend to make good money. But this isn’t God’s way. If we obey Him, people are going to hurt us. They are going to take advantage of what they perceive as weakness. Only it takes more strength to hold our action, to control our emotions, and to forgive and act with mercy. The Beatitudes are our blueprint for what we should be like. Choose to be merciful. Choose God’s way. Choose His blueprint for life.