Each of these statements from the Lord Jesus Christ build one upon another. Each one builds upon and adds to the truth of the previous ones.
For example: if all the Lord told us was “Blessed are the poor in spirit” the truth that all who “hunger and thirst after righteousness” shall be filled would lose some of its meaning.
When we get to this fifth blessing we notice a slight change. Jesus is still talking about the description of those who follow Him, but now there is a different perspective taken.
The first four beatitudes deal with inner principles, the child of God’s heart and mind. In these last four we can see the outward expression of those inward principles.
1.) Those “poor in spirit” recognize their need of mercy, so they are ready to show mercy.
2.) Those who mourn, grieve over their sin are concerned with purity of heart. Vs. 8.
3.) Those who are meek (humble) shall desire to make peace. Vs. 9.
4.) Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are ready and willing to suffer persecution for the sake of God’s kingdom. Vs.10-12.
TODAY WE LOOK AT THIS MATTER OF MERCY, OR BEING MERCIFUL.
WHAT IS TRUE MERCY?
We have to acknowledge the conditions to which Jesus was speaking. The idea of mercy would be a foreign idea to most of His hearers, least wise true mercy.
We understand how awful slavery is. But a 1st Century slave owner would not be questioned in his unmerciful treatment of his “property.” Likewise, a slave would not be expected to respond in mercy to his master. In addition, in Roman, Greek and even Hebrew culture, husbands and fathers had unquestioned liberty to deal with their wives and children as unmercifully as suited them. Jesus is addressing a culture that would be shocked and astounded at His words.
FALSE IDEAS OF MERCY.
MERCY FOR SOME.
Many would equate mercy with the way they consider “love,” “love those who love you” and show mercy to those who show mercy to you.
But, Jesus deals with that attitude later in this very sermon, look at Matthew 5:43-47. Only showing mercy on those who show you mercy is simply a very narrow, self centered way of looking at mercy. Many lost folk have a better perspective of the idea of mercy than that.
MERCY TO GET MERCY.
THIS CONCEPT OF MERCY.
“I will show mercy to you so that you will show mercy to me.” Mercy given in order to receive mercy. Again this is very self-serving.
Does the child of God show mercy to receive mercy from men? No. Christians show mercy because they ARE MERCIFUL. It is not something they do, it is something they are, in turn they receive God’s mercy.
Self-concern is simply a natural characteristic of natural man. “If you do not look out for yourself, no one else will.”
Sad thing is, that IS an accurate description of lost society. Mercy for mercy is not a given on the man to man level. You may not agree? In times of disaster people step up and help. Where there is need people in general will respond. Yes, and we are thankful for that charity that is shown in such times. But, what Jesus is referring to is of a different spirit.
In fact how was Jesus treated when He needed mercy? The most merciful man who ever lived, who was always merciful. HOW WAS HE REPAID? He was arrested, beaten and unjustly condemned to die. Even then, he still showed mercy, “Father, forgive them. . .”
Jesus is not teaching that if you show mercy to men, you should expect that men will be merciful to you. Absolutely not!
He is saying that for those who ARE MERCIFUL, God will show mercy.
BIBLICAL IDEA OF MERCY.
THE ATTITUDE OF MERCY.
The word “merciful” means to be “compassionate.”
When you, out of compassion, help one who is helpless, there is no expectation of return. One who is truly helpless can do nothing for you. Can there be any prospect of in kind return in such a act? That is mercy as God shows mercy. Will God ever need us to show Him mercy?
THE ACTION OF MERCY.
Being “merciful” has the idea of an active compassion. It means to have a inclination towards helping others. It means to have a pity that reaches out.
True mercy does not stop at feelings – it produces action. Mercy sees, and yes, feels the burden of the need, but then goes on to meet the need.
We realize then that mercy is very practical. Mercy, very simply stated, is compassion meeting needs. Not just feeling compassion, but showing compassion.
OUR NEED OF MERCY.
The natural man has an unpayable debt of sin. In fact the lost man is helpless in his sin. There is nothing sinful man can do of himself to pay his debt for sin except die and spend eternity under the judgment of God.
GOD’S COMPASSION FELT.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world . . .”
GOD’S COMPASSION SHOWN.
“. . . that He gave His only begotten Son.”
What could God expect in return that would benefit Him compared to what His mercy cost Him? What can man give God? Nothing but his love, his worship and his praise.
WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF BIBLICAL MERCY?
IT IS NOT FOUND IN THE NATURAL MAN.
I hope we can see that true mercy is impossible for fallen man to show. Pure mercy is a gift from God! It is impossible to show true mercy until one has experienced the mercy of God.
The ability to show mercy comes with our salvation.
FOUND ONLY IN GOD AND HIS CHILDREN.
Again, we see how this attitude of mercy follows what we have already learned. When God is at work in a life, there is a recognition of one’s poverty of spirit, there is a mourning over sin and a desire to turn from it. One is meek and submissive to the will of God and they have a hunger and thirst for righteousness.
We find mercy where there is humility, repentance, surrender and holiness. Essentially, mercy characterizes the person who really understands what God has done for them.
THE BLESSING UPON THE MERCIFUL. “They shall obtain mercy.”
THE RECIPIENTS OF MERCY.
Thank God for His mercy. Another definition of mercy and we certainly should understand this. “NOT RECEIVING WHAT WE DESERVE.”
As sinners, we deserve judgment and the wrath of God. Instead we receive mercy, based upon the work of Christ on the cross. God’s mercy does not just wink at sin and say “forget it, don’t worry about it.” NO, GOD CAN SHOW MERCY TO US BASED UPON THE CROSS: THE PRICE THAT JESUS PAID FOR OUR SIN.
We can now as recipients of God’s mercy show His mercy to others.
THE CYCLE OF MERCY. “They shall obtain mercy.”
We who have received God’s mercy show mercy, and in return receive more abundant mercy from God. The merciful experience the blessing of God’s mercy.
CONCLUSION: Do we who are saved understand the great mercy of God? What if God had refused to show us mercy and left us in our lost condition? We would be destined for hell and still under wrath of God!
But because of His mercy – we have forgiveness of sin and a relationship with God.
God help us to be merciful. To share ourselves with others. The greatest act of mercy we can show is to share Christ with those in desperate need of HIM!
LOST FRIEND: Do you realize your great need of God’s mercy? Without it you will spend eternity in hell. A Hell that was created for Satan and the fallen, wicked angels. It is a place of judgment and wrath. It is a place of torment and agony.
Flee to Christ for mercy, for forgiveness of sin, for life in Jesus Christ.