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I taught at IBC last Sunday on Jesus’ fifth beatitude, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.” As usual, that relentless clock prevented me from sharing all that I’d wanted to share about the richness and beauty of this wonderful discipleship virtue.
So, with your indulgence, I’d just like to add a few nuggets for your edification.
As an old English major, I so love Shakespeare’s insights about mercy through Portia in “The Merchant of Venice”:The quality of mercy is not strain'd, /It 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. . .
- (Act 4, scene 1)
These famous lines are true in every way. Mercy is Heaven’s gentle rain. It comes down from God. It begins in heaven and ends on earth. We deserve God’s punishment for our sin, but he refrained from punishing us. Instead, he assisted us. The gentle rain of Heaven fell on us, and we were forgiven and helped. And forgiven and helped, we were transformed.
The gentle rain seems a weak thing. But watch it falling on a plot of hard, dry, trampled earth. After awhile there is a softening, and life begins to push up through the mellowed ground. So with the mind of man. When we let thoughts of divine mercy drop repeatedly on the gardens of our imaginations, our hearts are softened.
(Ralph Sockman, The Higher Happiness, p. 111)
As we acknowledge how divine mercy drops repeatedly into the gardens of our lives, how Christ forgives us deeply and helps us repeatedly, our hearts will be softened and we will find ourselves extending forgiveness and help to others. In the words of an anonymous poet:
Who limps or stumbles along the road,
Unless you've worn the shoes he wears
Or struggled beneath his load.
Though hidden away from view
Or the burden he bears placed on your back
Might cause you to stumble too.
Unless you've felt the blow
That caused his shame or felt the shame
That only the fallen know
You may be strong but still the blows
That were his if dealt to you
In the same self way and the same self time
Might cause you to stagger too.
Or pelts you with words or stones.
Unless you are sure, yea, doubly sure,
That you have not sins of your own
For you, perhaps, that if the tempter's voice
Should whisper soft to you
As it did to him when he went astray
It would cause you to falter too.
Like Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matt. 5:7). The “gentle rain is twice blest”, blessing him that gives and him that takes and transforming them both in the process! And what an amazing “transformation” that is in these days of IBC’s 5-year vision of “A Transformed People, A Transformed City.”
Mercy Me, Mercy You, and Mercy Them.
About The Author:
Andy McQuitty is a husband, father, and grandfather; an avid reader, tennis-court rat, golfer, writer, and Harley rider. But his favorite pastime is being with his family. Andy earned his Th.M and D.Min degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary where he received the C. Sumner Wemp Award in personal evangelism as well as the John G. Mitchell Award for outstanding scholarship and effectiveness in ministry. Andy has served as a youth pastor in Tacoma, Washington, an associate pastor in Garland, Texas, and as senior pastor to Irving Bible Church (Texas) for 32 years.