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

Jesus could hardly have made it any clearer: If we want to be on the receiving end of kindness, we have to show kindness to others first. It’s the law of sowing and reaping. Mercy is responding compassionately to someone’s hurt, going the extra mile to help people in need, and being willing to listen when someone wants to talk. Some of us are naturally predisposed to be merciful, but for others, it’s a tough task.

Those who delight in justice want to see the guilty punished, wrongs righted, and boxes checked off so that they can move on to more pleasant things in life. But hurting people are all around us, and they’ll always be here. Some are obvious, some are hidden, and some live in the same house as we do. We won’t have a prayer of being merciful unless we notice people in need.

If our instant response to others in need is “Well they get what they deserve” then we haven’t realized that by God’s grace, we don’t get what we really deserve. If we have difficulty showing mercy and some of us show it everywhere but at home then we first need to go to the Cross to realize the wealth of God’s grace, mercy, kindness, and forgiveness given to us. With this realization fresh on our hearts, well be quicker to extend mercy to others in need around us.

We don’t have to wait for someone else to begin the reciprocity of mercy. God has already started it. We just need to respond to Him and to people in need.