Blessed are the merciful

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

What a pleasure it is to once again feed upon God’s Word as we continue our trek through the beatitudes. I hope you have found this study to be a fresh look at this very well known and often very misunderstood section of our Lord’s teaching. Several months ago we started all the way back at “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” And here we are now — poor in spirit, repentant, meek, and hungry for God’s righteousness. Those first four beatitudes were inner attitudes. Now the rest of the beatitudes will deal with the outer workings of our salvation. The inner man has been transformed, and the outer man will be an evidence of that transformation. So Jesus first says,

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

Some would say that this verse is saying that if you are merciful to others, then they will be merciful to you. You show mercy, you receive mercy. Tit for tat. While that may sometimes happen, that cannot be the meaning on this verse and it is certainly not a reason for the child of God to be merciful. Here’s why: Who was the most merciful person to ever walk on the earth? Hands down, Jesus Christ.

This man who could have demonstrated his deity in countless ways by doing mind-blowing feats of wonder like causing mountains to crumble, causing the sun to turn purple, making oceans dry up, or any other unimaginable show of power chose to demonstrate his power through mercy. He used his unlimited power to give families back their dead, give sight to the blind, heal paralytics, free the demon possessed, calm storms, feed hungry crowds, cause the deaf to hear, and the lame to run.

Ultimate mercy met ultimate rejection. An entire nation that had witnessed miracles of mercy beyond comprehension was content to see Christ nailed to a criminal’s cross.

But Christ expected this. He said in Luke 6:32-36,

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Jeremiah, that weeping prophet who cried day and night against the sins of Israel and begged them to come back to the God who loved them said in Lamentations 3:22,

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

In Jesus Christ, mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other (Psalm 85:10). We as Christians have been brought into the Kingdom of God by the mercy of Jesus Christ. It is His example that we are commanded to pursue. We are to be merciful, because God has been rich in mercy toward us as Paul so beautifully explains in Ephesians 2. I love 2 Corinthians 3:18 — “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” In our new life we possess the nature of God. Christ is in us, which is our hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). The Spirit is transforming us into the image of Christ, and part of that likeness will be a passion for both truth and mercy. We must preach and stand for the truth of God's Word, but we must also be quick to deal out forgiveness and aid to all, even to those who may not deserve it, but who are in need of it. In our own power all of this is impossible, but listen to these words of encouragement from Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5: 

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete and without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

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