I have intentionally decided to deviate from the lessons I have been giving lately to focus on something of great importance. If you have followed any of my meditations, this lesson may have a familiar ring to it, and for a good reason. The subject I wish to consider today is that of mercy. If you want to know the difference between grace and mercy, consider this quote, “Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance. Grace gave him a feast.” John Hagee writes, “Mercy requires that we learn to love others, to value their welfare more than our own!” Jesus in Matthew 5:3-12 fills the beatitudes with life-changing exhortations, and this is where we begin.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Matthew 5:7 NKJV
The words which Jesus mentions in these verses are life changing. Mourning: that is, to lament over our sinful state. Meekness speaks of a mild, gentle, and humble person. The idea of hungering and thirsting for righteousness speaks of one whose eyes are on the Lord, intent in their pursuit of Christ’s likeness. Then, we come to the word merciful; it speaks of compassion. Someone has said that “when a Christian shows mercy, he experiences liberation.” Do you think that is true? I do. Maybe that is why Jesus said that those who offer mercy are blessed, fortunate, and well off. But why? The answer is as complex as it is simple. The simple answer we will consider in a moment, but let’s first look at why it isn’t very easy. The antonyms for mercy (compassion) are things like callousness, cold-heartedness, hardheartedness, heartlessness. How do we view the homeless? The addicts? The broken and downtrodden? That is one side of mercy.
The apostle Paul would use words like bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and malice (Ephesians 4:31) that speak directly to the absence of mercy towards those who have hurt us. I know what that is like, and I suspect most of you do as well. Emotionally, we are reactive people that seek overtly or subtly to seek revenge, make things right, even the score. But if our world has taught us anything, there is no evening of the score. You see, bitterness internalized is nothing other than a prison cell without bars. So, Jesus wants us to know that how we see people, both those around us and those who have injured us, is critical to our spiritual journey. Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).
“Great blessings belong to those who show mercy to others.
Mercy will be given to them.”
Matthew 5:7, ETRV
I like simple things, don’t you? Well, here is the simple reason behind why those who show mercy are so blessed. We receive mercy as a result of showing it. One commentator writes, “No motive to mercy is so constraining as the feeling that we needed it and have found it.” Still, another writes, “To us, guilty sinners; to us, wretched, dying, and exposed to eternal woe; he has shown his mercy by giving his Son to die for us; by expressing his willingness to pardon and save us; and by sending his Spirit to renew and sanctify our hearts. Each day of our life, each hour, and each moment, we partake of his undeserved mercy.” Each cry for forgiveness. Each request for longsuffering from the Lord, we experience His mercy.
My heart grieves at the state of our world, exasperated by the constant lack of mercy. I have been guilty of it myself. Lord, help Your church to rise above the darkness and be an example of mercy and compassion to the world around us. May we do it because You are so merciful towards us.