I've been thinking about mercy quite a bit lately, particularly how it plays out in our relationships (I haven't had the chance yet, but I'm looking forward to listening to Dave Harvey's message God's Mercy and My Marriage, ht: Tara).
Last night, the phrase, "the quality of mercy is not strained" popped into my head, but for the life of me I couldn't remember where it was from. Turns out it's Shakespeare, from The Merchant of Venice. Here's the whole quote:
The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath.
It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show like God's
When mercy seasons justice.