Jesus is seated on a windswept hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee. His followers are spread out before him, and the messiah is about to deliver his manifesto: the sermon on the mount.
The preamble contains a section we call, “The beatitudes.” That’s Latin for “the blessings.” Eight simple characteristics that bring joy to life. And right in the middle he said, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy. Joyful are those who give mercy.”
But there’s a problem. Some people don’t deserve mercy. What about them?
I had some friends whose family collie was savagely attacked by the neighbor’s rottweilers. The neighbors let the big animals run loose, and the rottweilers came into this family’s yard and attacked the smaller miniature collie. Tore it up. Mauled it. The dog barely survived, and there were huge vet bills.
When these Christians confronted their neighbors about the attack the neighbors replied, “That little dog shouldn’t a been barking at our dogs.”
That’s it. They slammed door. Merciless.
As my friends told me the story, I thought about a possible solution.
You see, there were some people in that part of Texas who raised Bengal Tigers.
We’re talking 500+ pounds of muscle claws and teeth. Why not see if you can rent a tiger for a day, turn it lose in your front yard, and let the neighbor’s rottweilers bark at that tiger? When the tiger finishes the job on them, tell your neighbor, “Oh, I’m sorry but they really shouldn’t have barked at my tiger.”
The merciless don’t deserve mercy!
That’s kind of the silly thing about my solution, though. Putting a tiger in the yard to get revenge on the rottweilers is a great illustration of the law of retaliation. Here’s the problem with tigers.
A) You never know who or what it might attack.
B) The situation just escalated. And
C) You blew your opportunity to witness to those guys.
We know people like Rottweiler neighbors. They are in your place of work. They sit beside you in school. Some might even sit next to you in church! They are mean spirited, impatient with others, bitter, angry… The kind of person you avoid like the plague!
These folks are tough to love. And they are doubly tough to give mercy to. They’re merciless, so they don’t deserve mercy. And they usually don’t get it.
But we are still required to give it.
Blessed are the merciful. It never says “to whom.”