Summary: Waht it means to be merciful
Sermon on Mount
Blessed are the merciful
In the beatitudes, Jesus’ aim was to create a lifestyle in his followers that would make people think about the value of God, or to glorify God. The beatitudes start out showing us our great need for God and then the rest show us what it means to live like Jesus or walk in righteousness. Today I want to answer three questions today concerning this text.
1. How does my Heart Become merciful?
So far in verses 3-5 Jesus describes the emptiness of the blessed person: verse 3: poverty-stricken in spirit, verse 4: grieving over the sin and misery of our condition, and verse 5: accepting the hardships and accusations of life in meekness without defensiveness. This condition of blessed emptiness is followed in verse 6 by a hunger and thirst for the fullness of righteousness. Then comes three descriptions of how righteousness flourishes in the heart of the hungry: Mercy in verse 7, purity in verse 8 and peacemaking in verse 9. So the answer to the first question is that mercy comes from a heart that has first felt its own spiritual bankruptcy or spiritual emptiness and has come to grieve over its sin, and has learned to wait meekly for the timing of the Lord, and to cry out in hunger for the work of his mercy to satisfy us with the righteousness we need.
So mercy comes from mercy. Mercy grows up in a heart that recognizes and relishes in its own emptiness and in a soul that thirst/hungers for God. Mercy that flows out to others comes from mercy received from God. The key to becoming merciful is becoming a broken person. A broken person recognizes that everything we are and has is from divine mercy. Mercy grows up like fruit in a broken heart and a meek spirit and a soul that hungers and thirsts for God to be merciful. Our mercy toward each other comes from God’s mercy to us. I want CCC to be a community of people who recognize how desperately we need God and we throw ourselves at him every morning for his mercy to fill our emptiness. Do you recognize that on a daily basis. Do you feel that on a daily basis. Do you awaken up feeling how bankrupt and empty you are spiritually so that you are driven to God in his word so that you are filled up with God himself. Are you driven to prayer because fellowship with God is like honey to a broken heart. Do you believe that his mercies are new everyday so you reach up to heaven daily for new mercies today because yesterday’s mercies are not sufficient for you today. Only when your heart is so broken over your own sin and your own need for God will mercy will flow from you like a river.
2. What is mercy?
Mercy and grace are almost synonymous. Grace is a loving response when love is underserved; mercy is a loving response prompted by the misery of another. Grace is God’s answer to the undeserving; mercy is God’s answer to the miserable. Sometimes is it helpful to define a term by looking at its opposite and that is what I want to do today. For many religious people there is a piety that is harsh and becomes more rigid and cold. But Matthews piety or righteousness is forgiving, gracious and merciful. To become more righteous in Matthew is to become more merciful. The self righteous person or the Pharisee has the tendency to become harsh and cold and sterile and rigid with themselves and others and lose sight of grace and mercy that is the foundation and means of righteousness. When you do not see your own misery or own sickness you do not tolerate it in others. When you do not or cannot extend mercy or grace to yourself how can you extend it towards of others? Jesus warns of this type of person. Let’s look at Matt 9:10-13. 10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ’sinners’?" 12 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."
Mercy is the opposite of sacrifice (religious behavior). Matt quotes Hosea 6:6 where God accuses his people that their love is like the dew – here one minute and then gone. All that is left is empty form of burnt offerings (religious activity). The point is that God wants us alive in our hearts. He wants affections for him and mercy towards others. Jesus sees humanity as sick and miserable and needs a physician. Pharisees see life as mechanical, as tradition, as religious behavior devoid of life. They were enslaved to trivial issues of ceremonial uncleaness when eternal sickness was about to be healed. It is a religious spirit if you will that focuses on religious behavior or tradition as the most important issues. A religious spirit is bent on maintaining the status quo or doing things they way we used to. It was unthinkable for a religious person to eat with sinners and tax collectors because they were so corrupt. Jesus says that is why I am here – your religious tradition are trivial matters when it comes to reaching out to the spiritually needy. The opposite of mercy is bondage to religious trivia. Are you enslaved to religious trivia and missing the more important matters of the law? What is your attitude about others here today? I know some young people that do not come here anymore because they do not feel welcome (wait). They feel like they are look at with suspicion when they come because of the way they are dressed or because of their behavior. I have had others that will not walk into this building because of the history of this church. I have had a number of conversations with the lost generation – early 20’s who say that the church has left a bad taste in their mouth because we have been known for law with no grace. They grew up always falling short of the mark, never good enough. That will screw a kid up spiritually. Rules without relationship is death. Are we so focused on sacrifice – religious behavior – which are trivial compared to the weightier matters of the law that we do not or cannot extend mercy to people who are spiritually sick. It is like going to the doctors office and the receptionist is rude and obnoxious and sends you away. That is asinine. I want to declare today that anyone and everyone who comes to CCC seeking spiritual help is welcome. I want us to be a community of people who extend love and grace and mercy to the spiritually sick not matter how they are dressed when they come in here, no matter how messed up they are, not matter how much pain they carry. We are a family and a hospital. As a family we welcome all people here with open arms; as a hospital we welcome all who recognize their need of the great physician. We need to change our culture. We are not where we were 5 years ago but we are also not where we need to be.