October 28, 2018

The Benefits of Mercy: 3 Examples

“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”—John 8:7 (KJV)

Everyone is human. That means each person is flawed; no exceptions. We make mistakes. Loved ones hurt and annoy each other. This may be planned, or it may happen by accident.

Every inhabitant of Earth needs to give and receive mercy (compassion). The image below shows ways the average person may fall short of perfection:

Ruth and Boaz

Ruth is a Moabite. She follows her dead husband’s mother, Naomi, back to her homeland, modern Israel. They settle in Bethlehem. The two ladies are poor. Ruth is a foreigner. Some individuals wouldn’t have shown them kindness.

Luckily, the ladies find Boaz’s property. He is a relative of Naomi’s late husband. After the landowner’s men pick their share of barley, the young lady gathers what they leave behind.

Boaz shows great compassion. He instructs his servants to leave more grain for Ruth to find. He makes Ruth a part of his household and eventually marries her. She becomes the great-grandmother of King David. That means she’s in the bloodline of Jesus Christ.

Reasons for Mercy According to William Shakespeare

He is the most prominent playwright and poet of the English language. His writings are full of wisdom. Here are the main points of two of his most famous passages on the subject:
  • Blessing to the giver and the receiver
  • Quality of God himself
  • Must be given in order to be received
  • Necessary for everyone; we all fall short

Merchant of Venice Act 4, scene 1 (No fear Shakespeare version from Sparknotes.com)

Portia is talking to Shylock. He is a Jewish businessman who wants justice for a misdeed done to him.

NOTE: The original Shakespeare will be in the left column. The modern translation is in the right one.

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes
The thron├Ęd monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings,
But mercy is above this sceptered sway.
It is enthron├Ęd in the hearts of kings.
It is an attribute to God himself.
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this—
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea,
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.
No one shows mercy because he has to. It just happens, the way gentle rain drops on the ground. Mercy is a double blessing. It blesses the one who gives it and the one who receives it. It’s strongest in the strongest people. It looks better in a king than his own crown looks on him. The king’s scepter represents his earthly power, the symbol of majesty, the focus of royal authority. But mercy is higher than the scepter. It’s enthroned in the hearts of kings, a quality of God himself. Kingly power seems most like God’s power when the king mixes mercy with justice. So although justice is your plea, Jew, consider this.

Justice won’t save our souls. We pray for mercy, and this same prayer teaches us to show mercy to others as well. I’ve told you this to make you give up this case. If you pursue it, this strict court of Venice will need to carry out the sentence against the merchant there

HAMLET Act 2, Scene 2 (No Fear Shakespeare Version from Sparknotes.com)
(Prince) Hamlet is addressing Polonius. The old man is the courtier who is supposed to show the visiting acting troupe hospitality. Polonius says he’ll treat the players as they deserve. This is Hamlet’s response:

God’s bodykins, man, much better. Use every man after his desert, and who should ’scape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity. The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.

Good heavens, man, give them more than that! If you pay everyone what they deserve, would anyone ever escape a whipping? Treat them with honor and dignity.
The less they deserve, the more your generosity is worth. Lead them inside

My Conclusion

“Always be kinder than necessary. What goes around comes around. No one has ever made themselves strong by showing how small someone else is.”--@InspowerBooks (Motivational Quotes)
“The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.”-- Proverbs 11:17 (KJV)

A friend recently told me, “We fall into the pits we dig for others.” I’ve seen that play out in my life many times. When we hurt others, we damage ourselves. When we help others, we serve ourselves. That’s one of the most simple, yet profound, reasons for mercy.

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