If you hang around people you’ll have some opportunity to be merciful. “Time and chance happen to everybody” (Ecclesiates 9:11). “Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them” (Ecclesiastes 9:12). Since pitiful times can occur to anyone on any day, opportunities to show pity can, too.
Some people can be merciful more easily than others. Paul actually spoke of those who have a gift for being merciful (Romans 12:8). Others find being compassionate more difficult. Perhaps those gifted with mercy even struggle with pity when stupidity is involved. When you can place blame, you can ignore feelings of compassion a little easier. When it’s sin, particularly sin against you, that has put someone in a need for mercy from you, you can even justify not feeling compassionate. Maybe this is why Jesus gave us such an incentive for compassion. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
As marriage coaches, we see a lot of people in positions to be merciful … or not. We can see husbands and wives in the internal battle. They want their spouse to pay. They want them to feel the discomfort. They want them to squirm in their seats. But then it happens. Instead of withholding touch, a wife reaches out for his hand. Instead of scowling, he produces a soft smile. Instead of keeping silent, she whispers, “I forgive you” or he says, “I’m sorry you’re hurting.”
When we witness mercy like that, we smile at each other. We’ll pat each other’s leg, and we’ll sit silently in awe. Someone else is happy, too. When a husband or wife is merciful to a spouse Jesus smiles. We bet that sometimes when compassion rises, Jesus looks to the Father and says, “They learned that from me.” He loves it when his followers are merciful, especially when it is most difficult to be merciful. He loves it so much that when we give mercy away, he fills us right back up.
Blessed are the merciful.