What This World Needs Is For You To STOP Being Merciless!
Be-Attitudes (Part 5)
By: Rev. Joe Kramer
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
-Matthew 5:7 (NKJV)
This is one of the most interesting of the beatitudes. Notice that it says to obtain mercy on must show mercy. The interesting thing for a Christian is that Christians stand between the two halves of this verse. Christians must show mercy, compassion and love in order to obtain it from others. This goes back to the principles of sewing and reaping (which we find throughout scripture). You reap what you sew; if you sew hatefulness then that is what you will reap. If you try to show mercy you will ultimately receive mercy (Though it may not seem like that at all times, God is our judge and vindication. He will you show you mercy).
Mercy is yet another term that most people think they understand. But our understanding in our culture is not necessarily the understanding of the first century Christians. The following is an excerpt from Eerdmans Bible Dictionary.
- It is within family relationships that human mercy was most experienced and expected as a duty by the people of the Old Testament (cf. Amos 1:11; Zech. 7:9–10). But human mercy was to extend to neighbor and even stranger, especially the needy and oppressed (Prov. 21:10; cf. Job 19:21; Ps. 72:12–14; RSV “pity”; Exod. 22:21–22 [MT 20–21]), just as does God’s mercy (cf. Deut. 10:18–19). In the New Testament also, God’s mercy is to be the model of the human mercy of his people (Luke 6:36; cf. Eph 4:32).
- A significant aspect of Jesus’ ministry was his active compassion toward the suffering (Matt. 20:34; Mark 1:41; RSV “pity”; Luke 7:13; RSV “compassion”) and toward the leaderless (cf. Matt. 9:36). He developed a reputation for his healing powers, so that those who were suffering often took the initiative in seeking his merciful help (e.g., v. 27; 15:22; 17:15).
We may not be able to heal people as Jesus did, but we can show compassion toward others; we can do “what we can do.” If we are truly walking in all the beatitudes, up to this point, then we will be moved by God and our broken spirits to show mercy. When is the last time you were moved by a homeless man who needed food (as an example)? Yes I know we have all heard the horror stories where these guys make more money than we do, but there truly are homeless people out there. Why not offer them some food from a fast food restaurant? If they are hungry they will eat it.
Too often we become desensitized by the pure grossness of this world, but if we get on our knees and allow God’s power to move through our being then we will find ourselves being touched by the “down and out” of this world. We (speaking as Christians) will begin to poor out mercy to others and God’s mercy will be made manifest in our lives by the actions of others to us. This is a reciprocal process. God uses others to manifest mercy in our lives; this is a promise. However this promise has a condition that needs to be met; one must show mercy to receive mercy.
How about you today? Will you continue in your apathy? Will you allow your heart to remain calloused? Or will you allow God to change you from the inside out so that mercy becomes a natural outpouring in your life by the Holy Spirit? The choice is yours.
- Myers, A. C. (1987). The Eerdmans Bible dictionary (710). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.