Summary: It is certainly apparent in our world today that one does not have to go very far to encounter a lack of mercy. Sadly some do not even have to leave home to find an unmerciful spirit
“Mercy For The Merciful”
It is certainly apparent in our world today that one does not have to go very far to encounter a lack of mercy. Sadly some do not even have to leave home to find an unmerciful spirit. Our world is not so very different from the world in which our Lord spoke the Beatitudes.
In the Roman world in which Jesus spoke these words, mercy was despised and something to be ashamed of, if you expected to be a success. Mercy was considered a weakness. Listen as the Apostle Paul lists the characteristics of a thoroughly degenerate society he wrote, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; (29) being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, (30) backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, (31) undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful.” (Romans 1:28-31) The last characteristic that he names in such a society is one filled with people who lack mercy. Today we live in a fallen world among men and women, who are by nature selfish and evil. We live in a time and place where meekness is called weakness and kindness is called foolishness, it should come as little surprise that mercy is still not celebrated.
It is into such a world that Jesus speaks when he says, “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.” In yet another paradoxical statement Jesus promises it is the person who lives and walks in mercy that will be “blessed.” The word “blessed” means much more than happy. It is the idea of hearing the applause of Heaven or of being approved by God.
The idea of mercy is still a very misunderstood idea even in our "modern age." The question for us today is; "How can a person practice mercy in our post-modern society."
As we turn to the fifth blessing, we'll notice a subtle shift in focus. Just as the first tablet of the Ten Commandments concentrated on our relationship with God and the second on our relationship with people, so it is with the Beatitudes. In the second half of the beatitudes (the last four) we seem to turn from dealing with our attitude and relationship to God to dealing with our attitude and relationship with our fellow human beings.
Note with me three things about mercy!
First, The Meaning Of Mercy
So if we are to find the approval of God in being merciful the first thing that we need to do is to under-stand the meaning of mercy. We use the term “forgive-ness” almost interchangeable with the term “mercy.” But there is a slight difference, mercy is the source of forgiveness, and forgiveness is the expression of mercy.
We often think of mercy in terms of sympathy, kindness, or compassion. But mercy is more than just feeling compassion for someone in need. Mercy only exists when we do something to help. Jesus made this abundantly clear when He told “The Parable of the Good Samaritan.” As he told the story several men passed by the man who had been set upon by robbers and left beside the road, until the most unlikely Samaritan came by and actually help the poor man. Jesus then asked, “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” (37)
And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37)
So we are not to feel that we are merciful just because we feel compassion to someone who is in distress. Mercy is not mere sympathy, it is the deliberate act of feeling someone else’s need and seeking to relieve it.
• Extended From God To Man.
But we are not asked to be merciful out of the blue. What Jesus actually was saying was that we are to show mercy because we realize that have received mercy at the hands of God. In Ephesians 2:4 we learn that God has saved us “being rich in mercy.” It is God’s mercy not our worthiness that allows God to reach down in the middle of our sin and save us. The merciful person is the one who remembers their own sin, and how God forgave them, and understands the weakness of others and forgives them.
• Extended From Man To Man.
There can be no doubt that we are given plenty of opportunities to extend mercy to those around us.
It has been said that into every life some nuts must fall. Everyone has to deal with people who are just down-right peculiar. There are those whose elevator does not make it to the top floor, whose who do not seem to have both oars in the water, or just a few bricks shy of a load.