Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Each of the verses of the Beatitudes show a balance, a kind of one-for-one trade. On the one side there is a personal quality, of a kind that should be developing in your life if you belong to Jesus and desire to walk a life pleasing to God. On the other side is what we receive from God as a result – a promise. Sometimes this promise even seems to spill over into what we receive in this world, and we can only praise God for that. But with today’s verse, it is certainly something that we can eternally be thankful to God for: that we can receive His mercy.
The theme of this verse is something that Jesus repeats on many occasions during His ministry. Later in the Sermon on the Mount, He taught the Lord’s Prayer which includes the words: ‘forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.’
In Matthew 7 we read : ‘For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’
As I was once taught, it is not good to form a doctrine based on only one verse, but where the bible repeats itself you had better listen!
I think about it this way, that when we accept the saving work of Jesus and are adopted into the family of God, we have been forgiven much by His grace. It would seem so ungrateful to be less merciful to others. Jesus even taught a parable about this very subject in Matthew 18:21-35.
The verse above is a beautiful promise, to receive such undeserved grace and mercy. But let’s not forget to see the other side of it – that this is also a warning.
I find that many Christians these days are almost indistinguishable from the scribes and Pharisees of old – the same who Jesus found a vexation and who he spoke his woes about. These people are so quick to point out fault, to declare a wrong teaching, to say that some ideas are ‘of the devil’ or to say that another Christian is heading for ‘the fires of hell.’
They treat perceived sinners with utter contempt, such that the other person certainly could never feel the love of God having been treated by a ‘Christian’ in this way. I want to declare that this attitude, so common in the church today, is pride, arrogance, and sinfulness in every way. This attitude and the words that follow it destroy instead of building up, cause separations in the church instead of unity, and promotes forms of idolatry (because worship of the law or of scripture is idolatry – there is only one who deserves worship and it is our Lord and God).
Today in our churches there seems to be an epidemic of people rushing out to ‘tell the truth in love.’ I have to say that first, this is rarely truth, and second, this is almost never love. The result has often been a very hurt and disillusioned soul, sometimes even afraid after this to show up in the congregation again.
How much damage could be avoided if some had learned to keep their mouths shut! Or to approach elders first and pray about it (often any perceived problem is already known by the leadership and already being dealt with).
Today’s verse reminds us that there is a consequence to this kind of judgemental attitude.
Mercy is a fruit of love, and it is to be seen in those who recognise how much they were forgiven. Mercy is a fruit of those who love the Lord and desire to grow closer to Him.
I have a simple test: if the result of an action or of words spoken does not result in the sharing and increase of love, then it is most probably actions and words not desired by our Lord.
Let us live our lives with mercy to all and an attitude of unconditional love.