Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. (Matthew 5:7) What is Jesus’ point here? Is He suggesting that we will get mercy from God if we are merciful to others? How should we change our daily activities to come in line with this?
I have a couple of thoughts to share with you. The first is the manner in which “mercy” is talked about in the Bible. Generally, there are one of two things in mind when you see the word mercy. The first is the withholding of a penalty. Someone is shown mercy when they did something that requires punishment and the offended party determines not to exact retribution for what was done.
The second way that mercy is understood in the Bible could be best described compassion. It is based on the fact that I am in trouble, or I am weak or that I have needs that I cannot meet myself. In this case, someone comes in to offer assistance that I cannot do without. They are merciful. It would be the kind of mercy that the Good Samaritan showed to the man beaten by robbers and left for dead. You can find that story here.
I’d like to suggest that Jesus is talking about the second kind of mercy here since He has already spoken of being filled in our quest for righteousness because we were meek, poor in spirit, mourning over our sin and hungry for righteousness. Now, He reminds us that as we live out our faith, we will find ourselves caring compassionately for the needs of those around us.
How do we do that? By caring for their physical needs. Sometimes is really is as simple as that. Perhaps we can show compassion to one who is hurting emotionally and help to lift them from a difficult situation through our compassionate participation. Of course, being merciful or compassionate to someone spiritually would involved sharing Christ with them, offering forgiveness when necessary…even helping them see when they need to correct their course.
Here’s my point; all of these things provide evidence that I have been transformed by the gospel. Particularly when I show concern for someone’s spiritual state, I evidence that Christ has changed my priorities and caused me to place others’ needs before my own.
What is the result? We demonstrate that we are truly children of God through faith in Christ, and thus will be recipients of the mercy of God. But even in practical terms, doesn’t if often follow that the people who show mercy receive mercy from others? Sure there are times when we will be taken advantage of, but this won’t change the reality of the mercy we will continue to receive from the Lord. He will show His compassion toward us in His dealings with us…perhaps even through the ministry of those to whom we have shown mercy.
Let’s me people who are merciful and compassionate to others today. We best reflect the loving kindness of God when we do this.