Summary: Sixth in my Be-Attitudes series, addressing the need for Christians to show mercy.
The Be-Attitudes #6 - “Mercy”
By James Galbraith
First Baptist Church, Port Alberni.
February 11, 2007
Matt 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Luke 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered: ”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
The first four be-attitudes,
being poor in spirit,
all pointed to the inner self. They focus on attitudes that shape who we are.
Seeing ourselves for who we really are, people in need of forgiveness.
Confronting sorrow instead of hiding from it or self-medicating against it,
Considering ourselves servants to those around us,
and seeking God’s righteousness like we seek the very basics of life.
Jesus’ now turn our attention to our outward lives, or how we live amongst others. And he starts by telling us to simply care for, in practical ways, those who are around us.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
The phrase “able to take care of themselves” is one of those phrases that is quite popular these days.
Take, for example, how we give aid to people in need. The principle that governs many of our attempts to help others is found in this cliché -
“Give a man a fish, and he will be back tomorrow,
teach a man to fish, and he will take care of himself”
I used the example of The Body Shop a few weeks ago - a cosmetic company which prides itself in taking up good causes.
A few years ago, they printed T-shirts with the motto ‘Trade, not Aid”, in order to make the same point; that we should teach people how to help themselves, and not just give them hand outs
There is merit to this approach, of course, but we must never allow it to stifle our simpler calling , which is to just help people where they are with what they need.
True mercy is a real, tangible demonstration that we care about people.
It can be as simple as providing a cold drink on a hot day, or it can be as complicated as walking someone through the loss of a loved one.
True mercy is given without expectation of anything in return;
it’s not a gift exchange, but the free, no strings attached giving of help.
True mercy is also given without making any requirements of those receiving it. We don’t make people “qualify” for help; we simply help them.
Look at all the times that Jesus showed mercy:
Jesus helped lame people walk again,
which would obviously help them help themselves.
But he also feed 5000 people who were very able to go feed themselves.
He cleansed ten lepers, with the result being that they could live life for themselves. He knew that only one would actually be thankful, but did he “unheal” the other nine – of course not.
He also made wine at a wedding where everybody had already consumed what was provided.