Showing Mercy to Adversaries

An important expression of mercy is showing forbearance to our adversaries. This follows Jesus’ teaching, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). As we want God to have mercy on us for our transgressions, we should also show mercy to persons who have offended us.

When we offer mercy in this manner, we recognize the wisdom of Portia’s speech in William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice (Act IV, Scene I):

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes:

It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.

We can add Jesus’ beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

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