Evangelizing through the Catholic Arts

Why be Merciful? What’s in it for me?

Unmerciful Servant 2

Why should I be merciful?

Isn’t it enough that I forgive, I now need extend mercy to others? Hmm…how many times have you secretly had these thoughts? If you are like me, you engaged in this line of thinking more often than you want to admit. Mercy is a tough virtue to “want” to grasp, especially from a “giving mercy” perspective. We naturally think it’s a one way proposition; the other guy gets all the mercy.

“What’s in it for me?”

As human beings, we always want a quid-pro-quo (I do something for you, you do something for me). However, that is contrary to how mercy works. By providing that softer attitude toward a repentant sinner, rather than the deserved punishment, we give the person a second chance.

So, let me shed some light on what’s in it for you to be merciful:

  • For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy” (James 2:13).
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt 5:7).
  • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

From these three bible verses I glean the following:

  1. Mercy will be extended to the extent that we are merciful toward others. Ouch!
  2. If I grant mercy to others, then I will receive mercy from God for the things I have done wrong.
  3. I am created in the image and likeness of God, who is merciful. Therefore, I am called by Jesus to imitate Him who was merciful toward others.

Jesus set the example, providing the road map for us to follow. It’s up to us to decide if we are willing to be merciful toward others. James 2:13 resonated sufficiently enough with me, that I am willing to embrace the virtue of mercy. I will seek out opportunities to be more merciful toward others. How about you?

What are some of the ways that we can express mercy toward others? We’ll answer that question in our next reflection on the virtue of mercy. Don’t miss it!

This post was shared with Theology is a Verb and Reconciled to You.

7 Responses to Why be Merciful? What’s in it for me?

  • Thank you for sharing this reflection! Mercy is something I want to be working on!

  • I was wondering . Did you ever receive the picture of myself? As far as mercy goes I need to do a lot more work on myself and ask for the graces of God to help me out in this. There is such a horrid tendency in me to think negatively about my neighbors of whom in truth I simply do not have any knowledge. Yet nontheless in their regard I assume the worst and thus do not extend mercy toward them. Pray for me that my heart may undergo conversion in this regard.

    • Hi Will. Yes I did receive the picture and I sent you a response. I think we all need to do a lot more work in the mercy arena, given the state of incivility in our country these days emanating to and fro Washington DC.

      Regarding your personal outlook, is it possible that you think as you do of others, because you “assume” that they think the same of you? I think we’re touching on something here that may be an extension of what we discussed about forgiveness. Think about that – the reasoning for why you think of others the way that you do may go back to your relationship with your father.

  • …and forgive us our trespasses as…as we…I forgot.

  • Being merciful is not about forgiving people each time they do you harm. It’s about forgiving them when they realize they have done you wrong and ask for forgiveness. If they are so stubborn and stupid that they are not willing to see their mistakes then the best punishment is to leave them and go on with your life.

    • Hi Kay: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated. If mercy is not about forgiving people each time they do you harm, and if mercy should be held back until the person realizes their mistake and asks for forgiveness, then what does this comment from Jesus mean to you: “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)? We are asked to live a Christ-like life, as Christians. Christ has extended His mercy to each one of us, even though we may be clueless to the offense. He asks us to do the same: That means extending mercy to others, whether they ask for it or not. I ask you to look at James 2:13 for affirmation. – Peace, Ginny

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