Daily Riches: The Pity of a Life Without Problems (Dallas Willard and Thomas Merton)

“People [who cannot forgive themselves] refuse to live on the basis of pity. Their problem is not that they are hard on themselves, but that they are proud. …They do not want to accept that they can only live on the basis of pity from others, that the good that comes to them is rarely ‘deserved.’ …I have used the word pity … rather than the word mercy … because only pity reaches to the heart of our condition. The word pity makes us wince, as mercy does not. Our current language has robbed mercy of its deep, traditional meaning, which is practically the same as pity. To pity someone now is to feel sorry for them, and that is regarded as demeaning, whereas to have mercy now is thought to be slightly noble—just ‘give’em a break.’  …But no, I need more than a break. I need pity because of who I am. If my pride is untouched when I pray for forgiveness, I have not prayed for forgiveness. I don’t even understand it. In the model prayer, Jesus teaches us to ask for pity with reference to our wrongdoings. Without it, life is hopeless. And with it comes the gift of pity as an atmosphere in which we then can live. To live in this atmosphere is to be able simply to drop the many personal issues that make human life miserable and, with a clarity of mind that comes only from not protecting my pride, to work for the good things all around us we always can realize in cooperation with the hand of God.” Dallas Willard

“Only the man who has faced despair is really convinced that he needs mercy. Those who do not want mercy never seek it. It is better to find God on the threshold of despair than to risk our lives in complacency that has never felt the need of forgiveness. A life without problems may literally be more hopeless than one that always verges on despair.” Thomas Merton

“But let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great.” 1 Samuel 2:14

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you unable to forgive yourself? If so, why?
  • Are you done “protecting your pride” so you’re freed to show pity?
  • Is your preference “a life without problems?”

Abba, I’m very grateful for your great mercy.

For More: The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

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