Mercy can purge the soul of sin, making room for a fresh start. Truth is vital in order that we have an unvarying standard by which to determine what we are to be and to do and what we are to rid ourselves of. All the cardinal virtues, therefore, carry their own intrinsic as well as outward reward. A merciful man does do good to his own soul.
By seeing life's experiences through to the end, on our small scale, we can finally say, as Jesus did on the cross, "It is finished." We, too, can then have "finished our preparations," having done the particular work God has given each of us to do. However, our tiny cup cannot be taken from us either. For this reason have we come unto the world.
At times God's best pupils experience the most rigorous and continuous courses. Eventually those who prove to be men of Christ will thereby become distinguished alumni of life's school of affliction, graduating with honors.
Looking for honest ways to lift one another would . . . be more beneficial to our own self-esteem, for we would see more good in ourselves. We would cease to be so critical of our weaknesses and would find ways to allow our weaknesses to become strengths with God's help.
C. S. Lewis put it well when he gave us the analogy of remodeling the human soul and a living house: "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently, He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace." (Mere Christianity [New York: Macmillan, 1960], p. 174.)