Pat Jones: The virtues of mercy

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Most of us know the story of the Good Samaritan, a parable that Jesus taught.

It's the story about the man traveling down a road, minding his own business, probably thinking about what he would have for lunch or what he needed to accomplish when he reached the end of his trip before he could sit down to supper.

And then he was mercilessly attacked by robbers and left for dead.

The parable continues by telling us the priest and then later the Levite passed by but had no mercy on the poor, possibly dying man.

Then we're introduced to the "hero" of the story - a Samaritan, who was willing to spend time and money to help this wretched man.

He took him to an inn and paid the innkeeper to provide additional care for the wounded man.

So with whom do you identify?

Most of us really don't want to be like the priest or Levite, without any mercy in us.

We don't want to be the innkeeper, either, who had to be paid for his mercy. I am sure most of us want to be a Good Samaritan, full of mercy and compassion for the victim and full of satisfaction in a job well-done.

But wait, this parable isn't just a lesson about what to do, it's a lesson about what's been done for us.

We don't become merciful by thinking about others in need; we become merciful by experiencing mercy.

If we stop thinking about which character we ought to be and focus instead on who we really are, the answer can be humbling. Most of us have behaved like the four active characters at one time or another, not wanting to get involved in the messy lives of our needy neighbors. But really, all of us have been the victim.

We've all known helplessness. We've been the needy neighbor, if not physically then emotionally. We've all lain by the roadside and hoped someone would stop.

He did. He is our good neighbor. When Jesus spared us and showed us mercy by standing in for our sins' consequences, He showed us the ultimate mercy. Then He gave us the command to go and do likewise.

The Samaritan in this story looks remarkably like Jesus, doesn't he?

Do you want to be satisfied in your life?

Understand the robbers, Levites, priests, innkeepers and victims; have compassion on them all for the misery they're in.

Mostly, though, be like the Samaritan who showed tangible mercy, just like Jesus showed mercy to us.

Reach out today to show mercy to a "victim" you know.

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