Blessed Are The Merciful
March 5, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Note: This is part 5 of an 8 part series reflecting on the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. These values of the Kingdom of God are also values of our church. How do our values shape who we are and what we do?
Matthew 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
Of the Beatitudes, this one about mercy may produce the most confusion. At face value, it sounds as if mercy is only received from God when we give mercy to others. The mercy of God becomes part of a legalistic exchange. The very nature of mercy, however, contradicts this understanding. We never earn God’s mercy.
Mercy is compassion in action for one who is downtrodden and needy. Consider blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52. He cries out to the passing Jesus, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (v. 47) Bartimaeus was in a pitiful condition and looked to Jesus for compassionate help. Jesus stops and restores the man’s sight. From this example we see that mercy is received by the one who acknowledges his need.
In the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus teaches us to be good neighbors (Luke 10:29-37). In commending the Samaritan for stopping and having compassion, Jesus reveals the nature of one who has mercy on another. The priest and the Levite who pass on the other side of the road do not have mercy on the man in need. Why? The priest and Levite did not value the man as worth their time and sacrifice. They were proud. Why does the Samaritan help? He did not consider himself and his possessions as more valuable than the hurt man. Mercy springs from one who is humbled.
With these pictures of mercy we can begin to make sense of the Beatitude: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Who are the merciful? Those who have been humbled, in fact, broken in their spirit, enabled to see others in their need. The merciful receive the promise of mercy because they already acknowledge their own need and seek what they cannot earn.
What does this look like in the church?
1. Humbled, bold, joyous begging of God for mercy. God delights to give mercy to the humble and needy. We can be bold like Bartimaeus in seeking for the mercy of God (cf. Isaiah 57:15 & Hebrews 4:16). Our weekly worship gatherings should be marked by such qualities.
2. Compassionate action for one another. As we are humbled to see our needs, we see others with new eyes. Any sense of competition, comparison, or judgment fades away and we are moved with compassion to care for and help others.
3. A faithful witness to the goodness of Christ. Too often when we think of “mercy ministry” we think of what man can do for people in need. A true understanding and application of this Beatitude, however, magnifies the sufficiency of Christ and his mercy. The merciful “pass along” the mercy they have received in Christ and so lead others to the Good News.