Beatitudes — Acts that Lead to Life #6

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

There are good ways of talking to one another and there are bad ways of talking to one another. Everyone knows this, but it seems that really good communication is still a precious commodity, and few find it. This isn’t a new problem or a Christian problem or a non-Christian problem. It is a human condition. Consider James 3:

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Even the Bible recognizes the reality of how important what we say to people is in each of our lives. That reality should shape everything we do.

I have written about this before, but it bears repeating. You will invite people to speak from the place you speak from when you communicate to them. For example, when you speak from anger, you invite people to anger. When you speak from anxiety, you invite people to anxiety.

Conversely, when you speak from peace, you invite people to peace. When you choose to forgive, you invite people to forgive as well. When you choose to show mercy, you invite others to be merciful. But never forget that we all need mercy at some point in our lives. It is inevitable. So when you need mercy, it is good to have already been a person who was in the habit of giving mercy.

We prepare to receive mercy long before we need it. We prepare for this by being a merciful person. This is called making provision when we are strong for the times when we are weak.

Maybe the way to have our most broken moments handled well by others is that we choose to be people who handle other people’s mistakes well. I have seen countless examples in and out of the Church where people handle another’s mistakes poorly and then are terribly offended when the roles are reversed and they are shown no mercy.

In your strongest moments, may you show mercy to those who have blown it. May you invite others to a place of mercy. And may you be the kind of person whom, when you blow it — and you will — people line up to show mercy because of where you have already been.