Summary: Lesson 6
We live in a world where it is easy to become cold-hearted, insensitive, and unsympathetic. We are constantly being bombarded with news of some tragedy that has happened somewhere in the world. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear of, and see the results of, some violent act that has occurred. Scenes of dead bodies lying in the streets, police and paramedics hurrying about, friends and loved ones grieving uncontrollably have become all too familiar.
In order to cope with all of the pain and suffering that goes on around us, we have learned to control our emotions and we don’t allow ourselves to dwell too long upon the negative. In the process however, we have also managed to become skeptical and merciless.
In this fifth Beatitude, Jesus lashes out against the cruel and heartless attitude of today’s society. In contrast, we are called upon to be merciful. What does that mean?
According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, it "is the outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of him who shows it." Arthur Pink defines mercifulness as "a holy compassion of soul, whereby one is moved to pity, and go to the relief of, another in misery." Obviously, being merciful is more than just being sympathetic toward the needs of others. It is actually doing something to meet those needs.
I. MERCY DEMONSTRATED
The mercy Jesus spoke of in this beatitude can be demonstrated in several ways.
2. God has many purposes for bringing suffering into the lives of His people. One of those purposes is to help us be merciful. After we have gone through a great trial of affliction and have experienced the grace of God working in our life, it is God’s intention that we then share that experience with others when we are given the opportunity.
1. "There is something monstrously absurd in men’s being so exceedingly concerned about the removal of the sufferings of a few years, and altogether careless about the prevention of the intolerable miseries of eternity." (John Brown)
2. The greatest need of man is his need of a Saviour. What good does it do to feed the body if we are going to neglect the soul? The body will one day turn to dust, but the soul will live for eternity.
3. Romans 9:1-3
4. Romans 10:1
5. Paul demonstrated genuine mercy in that he was not only moved emotionally by the need of the lost, but he was also actively involved in meeting those needs by sharing the gospel.
II. MERCY CULTIVATED
How does one develop a more merciful spirit? Referring back to the story of the "Good Samaritan" (Luke 10:33-34), we see that there are three practical steps we can take toward being "merciful" as the Lord would have us to be.
A. Seeing "and when he saw him"
1. With the hustle and bustle of today’s society, we tend to get wrapped up in our own little worlds. We all have our own plans, our own dreams, our own goals. As we come in contact with people, we tend to catagorize them in one of two ways. They are either beneficial to our plans, dreams, and goals, or they aren’t. Those that are, we are willing to spend time with, and those that aren’t we ignore because they are useless to our cause.
2. In order to cultivate a more merciful spirit we must learn to see people as individually important to God. Regardless of how we stereotype them, they were "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14) just as we were, and God has a plan and purpose for their lives just as He does for ours.
3. The Samaritan saw the man, most likely a Jew, as someone who needed help. For all intents and purposes the man was the Samaritan’s enemy, but that made no difference. At this particular point in time he was simply another human being in need of assistance.
4. Learning to see others as God sees them is the first step in becoming more merciful.
B. Feeling "he had compassion on him"
1. As we’ve already seen, much of what we are exposed to every day makes it difficult for us to be moved with compassion. But the ability to "weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15) is of utmost importance if we are to be merciful.
2. Hebrews 13:3
3. Obviously we can’t all experience everything that others experience, but instead of standing at a distance and passing judgment, we can make an honest effort in trying, mentally at least, to put ourselves in their shoes for awhile.