Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
(Matthew 5:7 | NIV)
You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
(Matthew 5:7 | The Message)
A word about mercy. The word is closely related to the concepts of justice and grace. Here’s an easy way to keep them all straight.
- Justice: I get what I deserve (positive or negative)
- Grace: I get what I don’t deserve (positive)
- Mercy: I don’t get what I deserve (negative)
We want the world to be fair and just. We want everything to be boiled down to a simple ration where the guilty are punished and the “good guys” get rewarded. But that all breaks down the moment we understand that bad things happen to good people, and the “bad guy”sometimes gets away with it. We begin to believe that the world is chaotic, that it’s dog-eat-dog, and that only the strong survive. We can’t take anything for granted – even our personal safety and survival.
Some of us learn this lesson earlier in life than others. These people often become dominant Enneagram Type Eights, or Challengers. Eights value strength, action, power, and justice. Eights make good superheroes. Eights tend to be the most aggressive/assertive type on the Enneagram. They can come across as intense and intimidating, “larger than life.” They wear their anger on their sleeve, but keep their more tender/vulnerable emotions buried deep.
So why would we talk about Eights in relation to this Beatitude?
Eights are heavy on the side of justice. If someone wrongs them, they want to make sure that person is held accountable and pays for the transgression. They want life to be fair and right, like Ones, but Eights aren’t as perfectionistic in how they go about fighting for justice. Ones might fight in the courts. Eights will march in the streets.
When it comes to justice issues, Eights are almost always on the side of the underdog. They see a lot of themselves in those who are mistreated, bullied, or oppressed.
Eights have the justice thing down. It’s mercy they need to work on. Eights are good when it comes to “people get what they deserve.” Not so great with “people don’t get what they deserve.” Mercy can be viewed as weakness, which is what an Eight wants to avoid at all costs. Mercy is vulnerable, making it a double whammy.
But mercy is strength because it requires us to absorb the full cost of the transgression, to let it go, to defer “justice” in order to preserve relationships.
Someone cuts you off in traffic? You let it go.
Someone gives you a dirty look? Smile and shake it off.
Someone utters a passive-aggressive insult? Just roll with it and move on.
Someone says they’re sorry? You forgive and move forward.
Deep down Eights know they are the ones most in need of mercy and forgiveness. They are painfully aware of their own weaknesses, their own shortcomings, their own failures. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves.
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
When Eights move to a place of health and security, they can offer not just justice but also mercy and grace. In opening themselves up to the vulnerability of mercy, they will find themselves on the receiving end of all they ever wanted.
Why is mercy often thought of as a sign of weakness?
What does society tend to value more: justice, grace, or mercy?
What do you think about James’ statement that “mercy triumphs over judgment?” How can that make sense in the real world?