October 5

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Matthew 5:7

Mercy is all to do with a forgiving attitude that overlooks the faults of others. It is the opposite of demanding justice. Being merciful to others is part of our own repentance, in that we let all the grudges and injustices fall from our hearts, and we ourselves are suddenly free from bitterness. Bitterness is a cry for revenge, for justice, for a day in court to air my grievances. Mercy lets go of everything and reaches out to those who have sinned against us. Once mercy has touched us we are free, and able to realise how wrong we were in our attitudes. We understand why any other attitude is poisonous, first to ourselves, and then to all others around us. God will not continue to be merciful to someone who will not pass mercy on to others. It is part of the chain of life that connects us with God and those around us. Break a link in the chain, and it collapses altogether. The temptation to withhold mercy will be with us at every step of the way. Small things are often the things that most cause us to stumble, because we feel able to get hold of these situations and rectify the little wrongs that are done to us. Jesus told a parable of a man who was forgiven a billion-dollar debt, and then demanded that he be paid the thousand dollars that was owed him – Matthew 18:23-35; the king then withdrew his mercy towards the man. Mercy touches hearts and frees situations, and it liberates most of all the person who exercises mercy.