Summary: 5th part of eight on the Beattitudes.
The Perfect Standard For Life
Mercilessness, The Disease Of The Soul -Part 5 of 8
Reading: Matthew 5v7
Many years ago now, a true story is told of two identical twins who were working for their father.
They were so close they even dressed alike.
When their father died they took over the family business as everybody expected them to do.
Their relationship with each other was considered by the town people as being a model relationship.
One day in the shop, one of the brothers was so busy that he forgot to ring up a sale, and by mistake left a dollar bill on top of the cash register while he went to the front of the shop to wait on another customer.
Later, remembering the dollar bill, he returned to deposit it, but it was gone.
Automatically he asked his brother if he had seen it, but the brother said he had not.
An hour later he asked his brother again, but this time with an obvious note of suspicion.
His brother became angry and defensive.
Every time they tried to discuss the matter the conflict grew worse, culminating in vicious counter charges.
The outcome?, their relationship started to break up which led to a partition being installed down the middle of the shop and two competing businesses.
They continued like this for 20 years and their relationship became an open sore to their community.
One day a car with a number plate from another state pulled up in front of the two shops.
A well-dressed man entered the one brother’s shop and asked how long the shop had been there.
Learning it had been there for 20 years, he said, “Then you are the one with whom I must settle an old score”.
He said, “Some 20 years ago I was out of work, driving from place to place and I happened to get off in your town.
I had absolutely no money and had not eaten for 3 days.
As I was walking down the ally behind your shop, I looked in and saw a dollar bill on top of the cash register.
Everyone else was in front of the shop.
I had been raised in a Christian home and I had never before in my life stolen anything, but that moment I was so hungry, I gave in to temptation, slipped through the door and took that dollar bill.
That act has weighed on my conscience ever since and I finally decided that I would never be at peace, until I came back and faced up to that old sin and made amends.
“Would you let me now replace that money and pay you whatever is appropriate for damages?”.
When the man finished his confession, he was amazed to see the old shop owner shaking his head in deep sorrow, and beginning to weep.
Finally the old man gained control and taking the gentleman by the arm, asked him to go to the shop next door and tell it’s owner the same story.
The man agreed.
Only this time, two old men who looked almost identical, wept side by side.
Now, we don’t know if those two old men were Christians or not, but whatever their spiritual profession, their merciless, unforgiving spirits revealed hearts that had never understood the mercy of God in their lives, because if they had, they themselves would have been merciful to each other 20 years earlier.
If you are one of those people this morning caught up in bitterness and unforgiveness, then this Beatitude if for you, because it says, “Blessed [approved of God] are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”.
In other words, if you have a problem similar to these two unhappy brothers, this could change your life forever.
What Does The Word “Merciful” Mean?
Well, the basic Greek word translated “merciful”, is “to give help to the wretched, to relieve the miserable”.
Now, there is something we first have to understand before we go any further.
There is a difference between “mercy” and “grace”.
“Grace” is shown to the undeserving, whereas “mercy” is compassion to the miserable.
Mercy deals with the consequences of sin, whereas grace deals with sin itself.
Mercy eliminates the pain, whereas grace cures the disease of sin.
Mercy says, “I pity you”, whereas grace says, “I pardon you”.
Mercy can also have the meaning of compassion and we need to understand this as well.
Yet mercy is not simply feeling compassionate, why?, because mercy only exists when you do something about it.
It’s when you practically show compassion to a person.
…and here’s how you practically show mercy to a person.
Here’s how God describes it for us in Ephesians 4v32, “…be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ.” (LB).