The quality of mercy

We Christians – me included – need more of the “quality of mercy” in our relations with each other.

My wife and I have become aware of more and more broken marriages in Christian circles in Ottawa.

Over the years, we have seen bitter disputes in the churches we belonged to. Sometimes people say things about their Christian brothers and sisters that they never say to others.

Much of this comes from a critical spirit within us. We see things we don’t like in someone else and we can’t believe the person will change. Or, we don’t understand why that person is the way he is.

We have Jesus’ great example before us. Luke records his plea to the Father as soldiers nailed him to the cross:

“Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

I know this is beyond me if I rely on my self alone. It can only happen if I allow the Spirit to show me how he sees the person I am condemning.

I feel there is a close connection between mercy and forgiveness. God the Father showed us mercy by sending his son to save us from our sins. And when we respond to this gift, he forgives us our sins.

The Lord’s prayer includes a line asking God to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. We are showing mercy to others when we forgive them for what they have done to us.

I admit that I often mentally judge others. And I am slow to forgive someone who hurts me.

But we are transformed as we allow God to pour his mercy through us to others. And sometimes our acts of mercy have a ripple effect, rolling out to many others.

As I have said before, I and many others were touched when an Anglican pastor in Taber, Alberta, and his wife forgave the teenager who shot their son at school, killing him.

There is a great passage in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice where Portia talks about the “quality of mercy”. She says it “blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

May we followers of Christ catch a little of the “quality of mercy” that he bestows on us.


1 comment so far

  1. Judith Starr on

    Excellent piece. Bob. If only we could all show Christ’s quality of mercy, the world would be a gentler place.


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