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Daily Devotion for August 2, 2013

Matthew 5:7, Blessed are the merciful.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


The lovely voice of soprano Carolyn Sampson gives a quiet and lovely moment of praise to the glory of God.

Prayer for the Day Ahead

Who can tell what a day might bring? Therefore, gracious God, cause me to live every day as if it were to be my last, for I cannot know not that it is not. Help me to live this day as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.


Prayer of Thanks

Thank you, oh source of all abundance, for surrounding me with good things. But help me to remember that nothing of earthly value owns timeless truth. Let your immeasurable blessings transform how I perceive material benefits. Teach me to appreciate unchanging treasures: the wealth of your compassion, the grandeur of your wisdom, and the richness of reconciliation. Lighten my selfishness with simple faith. Help me to reveal your love more joyously. And strengthen me in grace, oh God, always to give the best that serves you most in humble gratitude.



May the Passion of Christ be ever in my heart. May your law and your goodness guide my every thought, O Lord. And may the power of your Holy Spirit flow through my words and my actions today, and always.


Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.

<i>Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (detail)</i>, Rembrandt ca. 1644.
Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (detail), Rembrandt ca. 1644.


It is easy to tell the toiler
How best he can carry his pack
But no one can rate a burden’s weight
Until it has been on his back.

~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 5:7 (ESV)

The Beatitudes [5]

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Notes on the Scripture

We hear this great lesson again and again in the New Testament. We echo it every time we say the Lord’s Prayer, for Christ taught us not even to pray for more mercy than we have given. God may show us more mercy than we have shown others — we base our faith, in fact, on God's express willingness to expunge our sins by the sacrifice of his sinless Son. God's capacity for forgiveness is perfect and infinite; ours is not.

Nevertheless — the repeated blandishments of the Epistles, and of Jesus Christ himself, that we should not expect more mercy than we give, come as close to being a normative theology of works as we find in the New Testament. As difficult as it may sometimes be to show mercy, its importance outweighs the difficulty.

Looking at the original languages of Matthew adds an enormous dimension to the Fifth Beatitude. These words were spoken in Aramaic, copied down in Hebrew, transcribed in Greek, and then translated to English!

The Hebrew word, which we read in translation as “mercy”, also connotes a gut-level sympathy for why a person would act wrongly. “Do not criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins,” says an old Native American proverb; the unstated assumption of mercy is that, if we fully understand another person, we will be more apt to forgive a transgression.

A great number of the secular world are, indeed, so self-absorbed or so arrogant that they simply do not care about others. Not to pick on Justin Timberlake, but he did say, “Cry me a river, build a bridge, and get over it.” We hear this sentiment repeated often: “Get over it.”

It is a sad reflection on the state of the person who says it.

What about the Christian, though? We may accept the need to show mercy, but it can be terribly hard. There are limits to our time, our strength, our energy. If someone has injured us, hurt and anger are powerful emotions. And we have troubles of our own!

We must consider Christ himself. First his words: “Then Peter came and said to Him, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'” (Matthew 18:21-22)

More importantly, consider Christ's life; his very purpose was to show sympathy for our plight and give his entire life for us, that we would not need to pay the terrible cost of our sins. We cannot let this slip our minds entirely, simply because we are angry or tired or frustrated.

We have to try. None of us can carry the weight of the world on our shoulders; but we can find enormous strength in the Holy Spirit. The key to this Beatitude, like so many other challenges, is honest prayer. If we pray, the Spirit will hammer away relentlessly at our anger, our self-righteousness, and our fatigue, and we can show the love for our fellow man, for Christ, and even for ourselves, that the Bible promises we can accomplish.

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Matthew 6:3-4: When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

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