Give to Get

Sandy Zull

READ : Luke 10:25-37

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

“Always do right. It will gratify some and astonish the rest.” Harry Truman kept this Mark Twain quote on his presidential desk. Twain’s comment is humorous but it is also cynical. He is very hard on the human race. God, understanding how deeply divided our souls are, sent his Son to show us another way of being. Jesus who is righteousness is also God’s mercy personified. He always does what is right, and shows us what is expected of us.

Being merciful isn’t easy. It’s possible to read Jesus’ teachings in a way that reduces them to lovely sentiments fit neatly into a well-crafted life. In the case of showing mercy, you could choose your time and subject carefully and, if at all possible, publicly.

In this verse Jesus uses the genius of placement. At the center of the Beatitudes, mercy directly follows hungering for righteousness and justice. It complements those qualities by giving a break to people who aren’t just or righteous. Jesus means we must give mercy when it’s not easy to do so, giving it for love’s sake with no expectation of payback. It means being merciful because Christ—and no human sensibility or law—requires it.

The promise? You get what you give.


Dear God, give eyes to see and hearts to respond to our Lord’s example of mercy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.