Summary: People who experience the fullness of life are merciful. They receive the mercy of God and are filled with healthy emotions.
Title: Happy are the Merciful
Text: Matthew 5:7
Truth: People who experience the fullness of life are merciful. They receive the mercy of God and are filled with healthy emotions.
Aim: Encourage others to be merciful.
There is something enticing about a movie plot dealing with revenge. From The Godfather to Hamlet to one of my favorite westerns Nevada Smith, the characters change, but we are drawn to stories of where people get even.
Revenge is so natural; it is like a reflex action. But when a story breaks the cycle of bloodshed and an eye for an eye, we stop. We sit up. We pay attention.
Such was the response to a movie made about five missionaries who received their crowns at the end of a spear. It’s the story about Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming and Ed McCulley being brutally killed in the jungle of Ecuador by a tribe that anthropologist said was once the most violent society ever documented.
The movie doesn’t tell us the story from the perspective of one of the missionaries. We learn what happened from the son of one of the missionaries. Our heart is in our throat as we watch the plane take this young Christian man to his death and his little boy looks after him until he is out of sight. We know the sense of foreboding the wife and child had would be proven true.
Here is where the story diverges. The boy grows to manhood, and what will he do? He goes back to the tribe. He doesn’t go back to find his father’s murderer and get even. No, he goes back to introduce them to the One his father served that was speared but did not spear back.
As amazing as that act of mercy is, the real miracle was what happened to the Auca Indians upon receiving these acts of mercy. They broke the cycle of revenge.
Five young men at the beginning of their lives are not supposed to die so pointlessly, nor so violently. Revenge is our human way of fixing what seems broken, of restoring the precarious balance of justice, of peace, to the universe. But the problem is that revenge doesn’t restore peace. Revenge moves a victim to the place of perpetrator and begins a whole new chapter of life not the way it is suppose to be. The Auca’s prove this. Maybe your life proves this. But mercy caused these people to break their spears and lay them down. When they did that it blessed their lives. (Catherine Claire, Prison Fellowship)
Jesus is at the beginning of his ministry. Great crowds follow Him at this time. His message is repent and receive the good news for the kingdom of God is at hand. What does a Christ-follower look like? Jesus tells us in this Sermon on the Mount. First, he has the character that is described in the Beatitudes.
The first four beatitudes are inwardly directed. A Christian recognizes his spiritual poverty to earn God’s favor. This leads to brokenness over his total unacceptableness to God. As a result he yields his life to the control and power of God. This creates an intense desire to be full of God and to know Him.
The second four beatitudes are outwardly directed. Once you have received God’s rich mercy for your poor spiritual condition and experienced his amazing comfort for your sin and known his conquering power so that you are filled with God, it changes the way you deal with people. You are compassionate, pure and peaceful.
These are not natural to us. We tend to respond aggressively or passively or with revenge, not mercy. Knowing that Jesus repeats the condition his disciples will experience when they live this way. “Live this way,” Jesus says, “and you will be blessed.”
Every message I’ve taken time to give a little more description of what it means to be blessed. If you want to get a broader understanding of what “blessing” means then listen to the messages online or look it up on the website mentioned in the bulletin.
What does it mean to be blessed? It speaks to a deep satisfaction and total approval of God. In the Old Testament one of the Hebrew words for “blessed” refers to someone that others are extremely envious of. I saw an interview of Tom Brady this week. He is the quarterback of the New England Patriots. He was drafted in the sixth round and in his second year in the league led them to the Super Bowl. Little boys, and some big boys, wear his jersey number. They fantasize being him when they play football in the front yard.
Really what they want is the approval that flows out that achievement. It feels good to have your parents or colleages or companions approve of you.