Measure for Measure

David Bast

Read: Luke 6:32-38

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. (Matt. 5:7)

When I was visiting one of the ancient cathedrals of England, I noticed a very interesting feature in the choir, the area where in medieval times the monks gathered for prayers. They used to pray around the clock, with seven different services during every 24-hour period, and the monks were required to stand throughout each service. But in the choir stalls where they stood there are little carved wooden benches that they could lean against for some relief. Those half-seats were called misericords, from the Latin word for “mercy.”

That’s a good illustration of what mercy is. Mercy means giving people a break. Mercy is offering help to the weak and the weary, and forgiveness to those who have stumbled.

I wonder if we realize how high a value God places on mercy. One of Jesus’ favorite Bible verses was Hosea 6:6: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (NIV).

God wants us to be merciful. He expects us to show mercy to others, especially if we want to receive mercy from him! Jesus reminds us in this beatitude of a basic rule in God’s kingdom: what we give is what we will get—measure for measure. If you never need any mercy for yourself, then I guess you don’t have to worry about extending it to anyone else. But if you’re like me, you will want to receive a whole lapful of mercy. So we had better be giving a lot of it to others. —David Bast

Prayer: Lord, help me to show mercy as much as I need it for myself.