January 5 (Matthew 5:7 NIV)
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
If you watch too many popular television shows and movies you might get the impression that revenge is the primary reason for anything to happen. The plots of most action movies revolve around the main character getting revenge for the wrong his adversary did to him. Who can forget Arnold Schwarzenegger looking at one of his daughter’s kidnappers and saying, “You’re a funny guy Sully, I like you. That’s why I’m going to kill you last.” Vengeance is a primary motivator for many classic movie scenes.
On the other hand, rarely do these movies highlight mercy or forgiveness. Those qualities just don’t sell. It’s not that people don’t want mercy, it’s that they don’t want to see other people get it. We want others to extend mercy to us, but we think other people should get what they deserve. When someone’s sins catch up to them, many Christians get a smug look on their face while they use a non-Christian concept as if it were a treasure from God and say, “Karma.”
To people like that, and I fall in that group far too often, Jesus reminds us that those who take the high road and show mercy are blessed, because they themselves will receive mercy. I believe that they’ll receive mercy in two ways. Here on earth, people will notice and honor those who are merciful by returning that mercy. Action movies based on revenge sell, but no one respects those who take revenge in real life; instead, when people see others who fail to show mercy, they find ways to make sure that the merciless among us get paid back for their evil deeds.
As satisfying as that payback may be, however, Jesus still reminds us that we should show mercy. The best reason to show mercy is that mercy is an important trait that God shows. In fact, His mercy and forgiveness is the basis of our faith. We’ve already received the greatest mercy possible when God forgave our sins and brought us into His family. Having been shown such mercy, how can we not imitate this amazing character trait of God in showing mercy to others?
Lord, how easy it is to miss experiencing Your mercy because I’m focused on exacting justice on others. Teach me to show mercy like you do, even as You show me mercy in those times that I fail you.