“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Mt. 5:7)
So, if the merciful are blessed, how in the world do we become merciful? It seems to me that it’s impossible to be merciful without first realizing how desperately we need mercy ourselves. If we don’t think we need mercy, we probably aren’t going to be able to extend mercy. But if we realize the depths of our own need, and are extended mercy ourselves, it makes it much more likely we will respond in kind. I mean, how could one who has been granted mercy, withhold that mercy from others, right? Receiving mercy changes us into merciful people. So the way to become merciful is to bask in the mercy of God.
But we can only do that, it seems, by coming face to face with our own neediness and desperation. As much as we would like for it not to, desperation plays a definite role in the equation. Desperation leads to dependence, dependence leads to humility, and humility, in turn, leads to mercy. Thus, increasing our desperation, increases our capacity to be merciful. Once we have received mercy ourselves, it does something deep inside—it makes us merciful people. And blessed.
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