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B@E2d: the fifth one

December 4, 2009

anyone could be hard-pressed to show others mercy. it isn’t an easy thing to do; we want to hold on to whatever we have, not share it and not give leniency to anyone who wrongs us and is less than perfect. it’s hard and uncomfortable and we would like to like to keep all the mercy we have to ourselves.

i believe we often have an incorrect view of mercy; especially when it comes to its contrast and relationship with grace. most people would say that “mercy” is when we withhold punishment or judgement from someone who deserves it and grace is giving something to someone who does not deserve it. simply put, mercy is the absence of judgement and  grace is the presence of a gift. in the Bible, though, the definitions are switched around. Jesus’ several miracles of healing are described as acts of mercy. and His payment for sin on the cross, taking the punishment that was rightly ours, is viewed as Grace. it’s curious how often our own definitions seem to be flipsided by the Bible.

this is not to say that mercy and grace are mutually exclusive, though. just like in most dichotomies, the two possess a both/and relationship rather than an either/or relationship. the two go hand in hand, and giving one is giving at least of the other. that being said, any time we show mercy to another, we are also showing grace. the idea holding the two together is that they are things we do not deserve or earn. pretty cool, huh?

more important than the distinction of grace and mercy is the idea Jesus is relating in this verse. the statement reflects the idea in the Lord’s Prayer (official version) that we will be forgiven according to how we forgive others. it is also similar to the  Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. Jesus is pretty adamant that the mercy we show others will be the same that God will show us.

heres the catch though: if we take this idea and run with it, thinking, OK, i’ve gotta show people grace if i want some o’ dat, we’ve already missed the point. to say that we are doing something in order to receive something else, that isn’t mercy, that is pining for something we don’t even understand completely. this is where i bring the subject back under the broad umbrella that the things we do shouldn’t be focused on what will come as a result of our actions but what we do should in fact be the result of our righteous pursuit of God and His Will. any more and i’ll be giving away the ending.

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