Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
January 31st, 2021

Blessed are the merciful,

Mercy, eleos, in the New Testament, is compassion for people in need.  It is an understanding of the wretched state that someone is in, combined with the desire to give them relief from their suffering. 

Mercy Starts with a Merciful God

Ephesians 2:4-5 says  4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), So, we see that it is God’s love for us that motivates His mercy for us, and our faith in Jesus allows Him to demonstrate that love by extending grace to us, making us alive together with Christ.  The kind of mercy that Jesus is telling us that we are blessed in is motivated by love. 

Our relationship with the merciful Jesus allows us to trust God to transform our character into one more like His, causes us to understand more about mercy on the inside.  And our love for Him causes us to want to demonstrate the mercy that we have been shown to others. 

Have Mercy on Sinners, Just like God does

Jesus gives us an example when He was dining at Mathew’s house in Mathew 9: 12-13, and the Pharisees were calling Him impure and incorrect for eating with tax collectors and sinners, [On] hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

The sinners came to Jesus to hear what He had to say.  They were sick with sin, and they knew that they were in need of the physician Jesus.

The Pharisees were all about abstaining from this and sacrificing that to show themselves and others how much they were giving up for God.  Jesus was demonstrating Heart-exposing mercies, Rebuking mercies, and I’m sure Uncomfortable mercies to the Pharisees.   He loved them too, but was frustrated that these men who devoted so much time to studying the Law didn’t understand this basic principle of mercy.  They were sick with sin, and did not realize it. 

Have mercy on those who are vulnerable or helpless

Jesus’ audience knew something about the value of mercy.  Jewish culture placed on the virtue of hesed, the grace, benevolence, compassion, and lovingkindness toward others, based in an understanding of the mercy and lovingkindness of God.  In Roman culture, mercy was weakness.  A Roman philosopher said that “mercy was the disease of the soul.”   But God cares about justice and mercy toward the most vulnerable Zech7:9-10  “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”

Show Mercy to All who need it

Psalms 145:9 says “The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works”.

God is not just merciful to saved people who believe in him and follow him, God is good to everyone.  But God also calls everyone to repentance, and to turn from their evil ways. 

We are accountable for demonstrating mercy

Jesus relates a parable in Mathew 18:23-35 which illustrates that forgiveness for Citizens of the Kingdom of God is a necessary characteristic, and that the nature of the forgiveness that we practice is not the “I’ll forgive you this once, but I won’t forget and you’d better not do it again” kind of forgiveness, but one that’s based on how our Heavenly Father has forgiven us. 

We all had this incredible debt that we owed God before we were saved.  In providing Jesus to pay for it, God forgave it.  All we have to do is accept the forgiveness of the debt that God has provided.  But, true acceptance of this payment means that our heart will be changed. We will begin to become more and more like Jesus, and He will begin to transform our character. 

He does not want us to harbor un-forgiveness in our heart.  He does not want us to have our heart poisoned by bitterness.   We weren’t meant to carry that around and we’re not supposed to carry that around. Asking questions like:  Lord, how many times must I forgive? Up to 7 times? Which types of people must I forgive?  My brothers only?  These questions reveal more about our lack of willingness to forgive, and let us know that God still has some work to do in our hearts.