Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy (Matthew 5:7)
If you were to read through the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament), you will find the following characterization: The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.
This declaration is consistent. It states that among all the many attributes of God -- holiness, omnipotence, righteousness, power, etc. -- these are the most defining.
I have centered my ministry in this witness. At the end of the day, the characteristics that are at the heart of the Gospel and most fully expressive of the Jesus Way are grace, mercy, forgiveness, and the fidelity and love of God toward human beings.
Indeed these characteristics are not the ONLY characteristics that God professes and exhibits. Of course. I do believe that the witness of scripture and the words of Christ do say that these are primary. And so I seek to live my life accordingly.
I strive to live graciously toward others and as St. Paul says, "insofar as it depends on you live peaceably with each other".
I seek to live mercifully toward others, reminding myself that I have received mercy in times of brokenness and sin.
I strive to be forgiving as I recognize that how forgiveness has shaped me and given me new life in so many ways.
I seek to remember in times of doubt, shame, and uncertainty that God is faithful amidst our suffering and stress and insecurity out of genuine and personal love for each of us.
I fail to do this to be sure. I forget these primary characteristics more than I wish it did. However, I have committed my life to this vision of the Lord. It is a vision that I believe the world needs. It is a vision that I believe is worth the energies of my adult life. It is the vision that I believe changes others life toward a posture and promise of peace.
Lord, you are gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Thank you. Amen.