These people without possessions, these strangers, these powerless, these sinners, these followers of Jesus live with him now also in the renunciation of their own dignity, for they are merciful.
As if their own need and lack were not enough, they share in other people's need, debasement, and guilt. They have an irresistible love for the lowly, the sick, for those who are in misery, for those who are demeaned and abased, for those who suffer injustice and are rejected, for everyone in pain and anxiety. They seek out all those who have fallen into sin and guilt. No need is too great, no sin too dreadful for mercy to reach. The merciful give their own honor to those who have fallen into shame and take that shame unto themselves. They may be found in the company of tax collectors and sinners and willingly bear the shame of their fellowship. Disciples give away anyone's greatest possession, their own dignity and honor, and show mercy. They know only one dignity and honor, the mercy of their Lord, which is their only source of life.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy." Matthew 5:7
Questions to Ponder
Practically speaking, what does mercy look like? How do merciful people act?
Why is "renunciation of their own dignity" necessary if disciples are to be truly merciful?
How might a church renounce its own dignity in order to be merciful?
How is Jesus our model for renouncing dignity in order to be merciful?
Is there anyone beneath the disciples' mercy? Why, or why not?
They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright;
they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with those who deal generously and lend,
who conduct their affairs with justice. Psalm 112:4-5
Write about a time when you extended mercy to someone. How did you feel?
Write about a time when you withheld mercy. How did you feel?
Reflect on the ways in which God is merciful to you.
Think of someone who needs to experience mercy. Pray for them in their need. Ask God what you might do to show them mercy.
Prayer for Today
Lord, may your infinite mercy to me enable me to be truly merciful to all others.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.