8th February 2024
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"Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy."
In Matthew 5:7 we read these words of Jesus,
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."
This, in my opinion, is one of the most important beatitudes that Jesus spoke, for nowhere do we imitate God more than in showing mercy, as God is defined by his mercy.
Now the word mercy, among the Jews, those who would have heard Jesus speaks these words, they would have thought of two things: the pardon of injuries and the practice of giving money to handicap people (the blind, the lame, the needy).
Jesus however used mercy in the sense of something so grabs and tugs at your heart, that you have no choice but to get involved by showing love, forgiveness, grace, and compassion.
A merciful man enters into the miseries of his or her neighbour, and feels for them.
But the first place we need to go, before we get to our part in being merciful, is to Jesus.
How do Jesus and God define and live out mercy for us to follow?
Each of us needs to realise that we are shown mercy each and every day.
Every day of our lives, each hour, and each moment, we partake of his undeserved mercy.
All the blessings we enjoy are proofs of his mercy.
He doesn't ask us to show others mercy, without him showing us mercy first.
There are also many times within Scripture that we see the connection between how we react to others with how God reacts to us, especially in the areas of forgiveness and mercy.
In this Scripture, it is clear that when we are merciful to others, God will in turn be merciful to us.
God does not distinguish between those who deserve his mercy and forgiveness and those who don't.
All too often however, we do distinguish between those who deserve our mercy and forgiveness and those who don't.
The innocent and lovable...no problem. Our enemies, those who hurt others...more of a problem.
I'm not saying that showing mercy to others is easy.
In fact, all the beatitudes are difficult to live out, as is following Jesus, period.
But because Jesus shows us mercy in so many large and small ways each and every day if we really want to be like him, act like him, and live like him, then we are called to live out a life of mercy to all.
In fact, mercy is not getting what we rightfully deserve.
The interesting thing though is how often the culture all around us sees the act of giving mercy as a weakness.
In Jesus' time mercy was seen very much in the same way as many in our own world see it.
The Romans despised pity.
The Pharisee's were harsh in their self-righteousness.
And the Stoic philosophers might offer help in time of need, but they looked disapprovingly of compassion.
In one of the best "cheesy" 80's movie, "The Karate Kid" we hear this philosophy about mercy, "We do not train to be merciful here. Mercy is for the weak.
If you show mercy in our own world, people will warn you that you'll get walked on, taken advantage of, and abused.
And sometimes they are right, but that doesn't mean we should stop offering mercy.
Because as our beatitude says we are blessed when we are merciful to others, and because of our mercy to others we will also be shown mercy, from God primarily, but there will be others who will return the favour.
But what does it look like to live out a life of mercy to those who we think deserve it, and more so, to those who we think don't deserve it?
What does it mean to you that you are the recipient of God's mercy each and every day in a variety of ways?
This is an edited version.
The full article and Bible references are avaiable on request
The central emphasis of the Church of the Brethren is not a creed,
but a commitment to follow Christ in simple obedience, to be faithful disciples in the modern world.
As do most other Christians, the Brethren believe in God as Creator and loving Sustainer.
We confess the Lordship of Christ, and we seek to be guided by the Holy Spirit in every aspect of life, thought, and mission.
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