July 15: Mercy

Proverbs 11:17 says, “The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”

Like so many biblical principles, the more we obey, the more blessed we become. It turns out that it really is more blessed to give than to receive. (And we all know how lovely it is to receive.) When we extend ourselves to others, whether it is to our own little people or to the stranger or to our neighbor, our own souls prosper. This means that we are the beneficiaries of our own mercy. Give a helping hand, and we are helped. Forgive a debt, and our hearts are enlarged, able to forgive more.  So we might be tempted to start showing mercy just so we will ourselves be blessed! But I think that’s the whole idea. Want to do good to your own soul? Show some mercy.

Now mercy is usually tied to acts of forgiveness. Someone wronged you. By extending forgiveness, you are showing mercy. This is not something necessarily easy. We don’t go along la-la-la-la-la bestowing forgiveness as though we were sprinkling pixie dust. Forgiveness is acknowledging that the person did indeed wrong you, and it is promising that you will forget all about it. You will act as though it never happened. You will never bring it up again to anyone. That is showing mercy, and it has a healing effect on both parties involved.

On the flip side, when we are hard-hearted, cruel, unforgiving, and unmerciful toward others, we receive more trouble in ourselves. Our hearts get harder, our “flesh” is troubled. Life gets more complicated. Bitterness festers and grows. We turn into trolls.

Mercy may be hard to show. It may require great amounts of prayer and grace. But it brings life and peace and a tender heart. It is a great good in itself, and it brings great good to our own souls. Let’s get more of it and spread it around. Be merciful. Forgive. And receive God’s blessing.

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7 thoughts on “July 15: Mercy

  1. thank you very much, nancy. the Lord knows i needed to hear on forgiveness and bitterness today. may God give me the grace to show mercy and grant me on the path to life FAR from bitterness and a hardened heart.

  2. How do you show mercy if it is something that the cops need to be told? Shouldn’t you tell the cops?

  3. This article was mostly addressing the attitude of the heart. Even when the cops need to be involved, you must protect your heart against unforgiveness and trusting God (and the authorities he put in place) to be the judge. We live in a broken world…

    I have learned that forgiveness is a key to a clean heart. It is worth the effort to go through the process to get to the other side of it and let go and be free of the stored up anger.

  4. Anonymous:
    If someone breaks into your house (or worse), by all means call the cops. But if they seek your forgiveness, forgive them. Don’t withhold the forgiveness and mercy because they are now in jail or aren’t and should be. Jesus says to love our enemies, to pray for those who wrong us.

  5. Nancy, Thanks for giving so much to this blog & for considering the following : )

    While I am in favor of forgiveness, I’m also in favor of remembering. If I forgot everything, I’d forget who to pray for.
    Also, from “10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe,” author Larry Osborne suggests, although God forgave David, after he confessed, for his sins (Bathsheba/Uriah), there were still HUGE consequences to be borne. 2 Samuel 12:10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
    11) “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12) You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’13) Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
    Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14) But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”
    We may, and should, forgive on the spiritual level, but forgetting (or winking at?) sin (by trying to ignore the natural consequences of broken relationships)? Especially broken trust. Taking the time to heal damaged relationships and/or making restitution, for genuine repentance, would be a strong start to natural forgetfulness, if possible. ‘Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.’
    (Maybe these thoughts are more for heavy duty offenses, not just little offenses.)

  6. Mrs. Wilson,

    If you have a moment, could you comment on forgiving and forgetting when there is great wrong involved, but the offender does not seek forgiveness? It seems as though we live in a culture, in a time, when it is fully expected that wrongs be dusted under the rug to be ignored (even grievous wrongs)…but never fully addressed. Any thoughts here? I’m guessing one ought to forgive and extend grace, regardless, but can fellowship, can trust, be truly restored under such circumstances?

    Thank you.

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