Blessed are the Merciful…
Many years ago, executives of the Time-Life publishing organization discovered that the company’s profit margin had shrunk to an alarmingly low level. Consequently, they began an intensive effort to try to cut costs. Efficiency experts suggested that substantial savings could be effected in the renewal department. There were 350 people working full time sending heartbreaking pleas to readers whose subscriptions were about to expire.
(For example, "Will you dare face your children without "Time" magazine on your coffee table?")
In any case, enormous quantities of these letters were being prepared manually. It was calculated that if a machine could be found to replace the manual labor, millions of dollars in overhead would be saved. In time, IBM came to the rescue with an enormous computer, delivered to Time-Life in a blaze of klieg lights and fanfare. Then the New system was installed. The name of each subscriber was put on a separate little plate and run through the vast machine. Whenever a nameplate came along that was within six weeks of expiration, a series of dots and dashes at the top of the tab triggered an electronic impulse that caused it to drop into a slot. The name was then affixed to one of the "heartbreaking" letters which was then folded, stuffed into an envelope, labeled, stamped, and dropped down a chute to the basement where a United States Branch Post Office was set up--all without a single human hand touching the operation.
The system worked flawlessly for a while, until that fateful, hot, humid, sticky day in New York City when one of the nameplates stuck in the machine. A few days later a lone sheepherder in Montana received 12,634 tear jerking letters asking him to subscribe to "Life" magazine.
The sheepherder, who hadn’t received a letter in years, took his knife, carefully slit open one of the mailbags and began reading his mail. Three weeks later, red-eyed, weary and up to his hips in 12,634 opened pieces of mail, he made out a check for $6.00, filled out a subscription coupon and sent it to the President of Time-Life personally, with the following note:
"I give up!"
That’s a story to remember, when you begin to wonder about the limit of God’s mercy. You don’t have to plead or beg for it. You don’t have to ask Him 12,634 or 1,000 or 100 times for it. You don’t have to ask him even once for it. God’s mercy is always there, always being offered, always present to you. God has already said,
"I give up: I love you; I forgive you.”
Maybe you have noticed, in reading through the beatitudes, that they fall into 2 distinct categories? The first 4 deal with our relationship to God. We are "poor in spirit," admitting our need for Him. We "mourn," we see our sin in light of what Jesus sacrificed for us. Then we surrender to God’s control. We empty ourselves of self-sufficiency and exhibit Christ dependency. We are "meek." The result of the first 3 steps? Hunger. And what you hunger for is righteousness.. You want more of His Word, of Christian influences, you find you’re happiest when around fellow believers. You hunger and thirst after a right relationship, and you are filled.
So, now that we know how to build a right relationship with God, Jesus turns our focus to the second four - how we can be right with one another. He begins by giving us the "Law of direct return" or as some call it: “The Boomerang Blessing.” He says, "You’ll be happy many times over when you show mercy to others, because then mercy will be shown to you." Jesus is making the point that the amount of mercy you show to others will be directly proportionate to the amount of mercy that you will receive. So many people are bound in a dungeon of resentment. And when a blanket of bitterness covers your soul, it sours your outlook and suffocates your joy. Since that’s the case, let’s look closely at what Jesus says about being merciful.
Mercy is not getting what we deserve, but what we need.
Illustration: Crowd before the Throne of God.
The sentence: Let the legitimacy of His birth be so clouded that no one will really know who His Father really is
Let him be born in bondage, an oppressed people. Let him know what it is to a be Jew.
Let try to communicate something so different, so radical that he will be labeled mad, or demon possessed
Let Him be abandoned by everyone, totally alone.
Let Him be tried by a prejudiced court and sentenced by a cowardly judge
Let Him be executed like a common criminal
Let Him suffer and let him die horribly.
Let Him be buried in a borrowed grave because he is too poor to afford one.
Let his name live, let men use it in moments of rage, as a common swear word.
When the last pronounced his portion of the sentence no one moved, no one said a word, for then they all knew God already served the sentence.
Mercy is not getting what we deserve, but what we need.
Exodus 33:19 God shows he will have mercy on those he chooses
Dt 13:17 Nothing evil will receive mercy
DT 7:2 and Joshua 11:20 We are not to show mercy to any evil thing.
We are moved by His Mercy (Psalms 5:7)
By His Mercy he hears our prayers (Ps 6:9)
By His Mercy he forgives our sins (ps 51:1)
Mercy embraces both forgiveness for the sinful and compassion for the needy
Mercy is a function of the saints because we have been shown great mercy, we are to give that same mercy to others because they are sinners.
We will give as we receive, yet we will receive as we give.
To be Meek is to recognize and acknowledge we are sinners, to be merciful is to have compassion on others for they are sinners too.
Mercy is a spiritual boomerang, we receive it, we give it, we get it back to give to others.
God demands it more than sacrifice (Hosea 6:6)
The Pharisee/Legalist follow the letter of the law and miss the spirit (Matt 23:23)
They will say LORD LORD….(Matt 7:21-23)
James 2:16-18 shows that Mercy, Compassion, Faith and Love are actions of the saints.
What do our actions show of us?
The Merciful King (Matt 18:23-35)
Pay strict attention to verse 35
A FAN today may take notes, agree with what is said, may even be moved to change, however when he leaves nothing changes.
A FOLLOWER will take all to heart, leave here looking for opportunities to put all this into practice.
Robert Schuller tells this story about Bernice Schug. He met Schug when she needed work and they hired her as a housekeeper. She was a lovely woman, showering the Schuller’s with love and poppy-seed rolls. But he says that no one knew of her hidden hurt. One day she came to Schuller and said, "Bob, I was reading the bulletin and I noticed that you are having a guest speaker next Sunday who was a Kamikaze pilot." Schuller nodded telling Bernice that this particular pilot had a tremendous story about finding Jesus. "That may be true, but my boy was killed in WWII by a Kamikaze pilot and I don’t think I could handle it." Schuller understood and told her he didn’t think it would hurt her to miss one Sunday. Schuller writes: "The next week the Japanese pilot shared his story. His love and gratitude for Jesus shone from his black eyes. You could feel the love and release he had found. People were moved by his testimony. And when the service was over, I walked with him back down the aisle to the rear of the Church. Suddenly, as we approached the last pew, an older woman stepped out directly in our path. She stood firmly in front of the Kamikaze pilot and blocked his exit. She looked him squarely in the eye and said, "My son was killed by a Kamikaze!" It was Schug. We all held our breath as she continued, "I have seen how God has forgiven you your sins, and tonight, for the first time in 40 years, I’ve allowed Him to forgive mine. Will you forgive my hatred for your people?" With tears in his eyes the young pilot said, "Will you forgive me for what my people did to you?" She threw her arms around this little Japanese man and they stood there holding each other, both of them crying and crying." Weeping with peace and release. Tears of joy. Because: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
Mercy is not getting what we deserve, but what we need. And we ought to be motivated to give because we will need it.