Bible Reading: Matthew 5:1-10
One day as the crowds were gathering, Jesus went up the mountainside with his disciples and sat down to teach them. This is what he taught them. . . . God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:1-2, 7
THE PEOPLE OF ancient Rome told the story of Androcles, a slave whose master was cruel. Androcles ran away and hid in the woods for a long time. He was happy to be free but had a hard time finding food, so he began to get hungry and weak. Finally, convinced that he was dying, Androcles crawled into a dark cave and lay down to sleep.
He was awakened by the loud roar of a lion that had entered the cave. Androcles thought the lion was going to eat him, but he watched in fascination as the lion limped in circles around the cave, constantly whimpering and occasionally roaring in pain.
When the great creature finally lay down, Androcles approached the lion carefully. To his surprise, the lion allowed him to gingerly lift the injured paw. Androcles discovered that a long, sharp thorn had lodged itself in the lion’s paw. With one quick motion, he pulled the thorn out. The lion licked the tender paw while Androcles still held it in his hand, and soon both man and animal fell asleep.
The next morning the lion brought food to Androcles, and it continued to do so every day until a band of soldiers came into the cave and recognized Androcles as an escaped slave. The soldiers arrested him and took him to Rome.
In those days runaway slaves were forced to fight wild animals in the Colosseum for the entertainment of the people. After a few days in prison, Androcles was taken to the Colosseum. His guards dragged him out into a dirt arena and left him alone. He trembled as he heard the roars of a hungry beast.
Finally, a gate was opened at the other end of the arena, and a mighty lion raced in, roaring and baring his teeth. The creature leaped upon Androcles in a single bound as the crowd watched in astonishment to see Androcles and the lion he had befriended roll over and over in the dirt in a happy reunion. When the crowd heard the slave’s story, they cried out for Androcles and the lion to be set free, and they were.
This fable illustrates an important truth. Jesus put it this way: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7, NIV). The person who shows mercy to others often receives mercy back, while the person who refuses mercy to others is cheated out of many good things.
It’s just another way that obeying God’s commands protects us and provides for us.
REFLECT: Have you ever been blessed by someone who has shown you mercy? Have you returned that blessing? Have you ever been blessed by being merciful to someone else?
PRAY: “Thank you, God, for the mercy you have shown to me. This week, help me think of a way to show mercy to one of your creatures.”