4th June 2011

Who Wins?

The fifth in the series on The Beatitudes 

“Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy”
Matthew 5:7 (NIV) 

Sometimes you get an unexpected chance to win a conflict you never started, or a niggle you didn’t ask for. Maybe a person who’s been clawing for chinks in your armour finally gets a bit too heavy-handed, leaving a great big obvious opening, and you know just what to say to turn the tables on them. 

Do you go for it or walk away? Striking back in self-defence (as every reality TV presenter knows) is full of human interest and tension, but of course spiritually it’s quite uninteresting. Boring. Been going on for millennia, and God will keep no record of it. 

So, just to keep it interesting, let’s suppose you let slip the opportunity. Why do you? Is it because you stand on your dignity, or because you are afraid of how much harder your opponent might try next time? It’s true that those who take up the wrong fight are subject to injury (Matthew 26:52), and that a gentler answer tends to defuse the bomb (Proverbs 15:1), but these are just the dry layers of the onion. 

It’s about submission to the character and nature of God. All these eight verses in The Beautitudes play the same theme: the blessings dealt to those who are submitted to God. Submitting includes honouring what God has already done for all of us.  We pray, “Forgive us…as we also have forgiven…” (Matthew 6:12), remembering the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18), who forgot the debt that he had been forgiven. 

So do you walk away from winning a fight because God’s mercy is clearer in your own mind than who’s right, and do you see someone who harms you as the recipient of God’s grace? Now that would be something new—and I mean new in the sense that you are a new creation of God’s own. 

I pray for your mercy on all of us, Father in Heaven, from those who fully recognise the need of it, to those who do not yet see.

Study by Fiona Jones 

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