Dixon Smith is 63 years old and suffers from stage 4 lymphoma. His wife went shopping last Thursday; shortly thereafter two men broke into their home. He grabbed his shotgun and made them lie down on the floor while he called 911 and waited for police to arrive. It turned out Smith had tried to help one of the men over the years. However, he believes the man has stolen cash and Smith’s cancer medication in the past. He told police he would prefer that the men get rehab rather than harsh jail sentences.
Who has injured you recently? Who has broken into your life, figuratively if not physically? What should you do now?
Jesus’ beatitudes are the keys to God’s blessing. If America would be blessed by the Lord, we must live by these truths. The fifth promises, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7). What is “mercy”? Grace is getting what you don’t deserve—mercy is not getting what you do deserve. It’s grace to be forgiven; it’s mercy to forgive.
Biblical forgiveness is not forgetting what was done to you, excusing the behavior, pretending you’re not hurt, or tolerating what was done. To extend mercy is to pardon, as when a governor chooses not to punish a criminal. Why pardon someone who has hurt you? To be “blessed” by the mercy of God. When you refuse to forgive, you harbor a grudge that harms you more than the person who hurt you. But when you pardon others, you position yourself to experience God’s merciful forgiveness for your sins.
How do we choose mercy today? First, admit the reality of your hurt, specifically and honestly. It may help to write down what was done to you and how you feel as a result. Second, ask God to help you forgive. Third, initiate restoration. Tell those who harmed you what they did to you and how much their offense has hurt you. Then tell them you have pardoned them. They may not understand or accept your gift, but you have done what you can.
Last, find a new way to relate to them. To forgive is not to be naïve, allowing an unrepentant person to hurt you again. Nor is it assuming that they will never change. Seek a balance with the wisdom God gives to know what and where you can trust. You may never have the old relationship, but you can have a new one by the grace of God.
God can bless only those who choose to be merciful. By this standard, can he bless our nation? Can he bless you?