Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are the Merciful
““Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
Matthew 5:7 NASB1995
As I have been reading commentaries and sermons on the Beatitudes, it is interesting to note that the first three blessed states describe the unworthy condition of our human souls (poor in spirit, mournful, meek). Then we hunger and thirst for righteousness, to emulate our beloved Savior by being in God’s word and prayer to satisfy our spiritual longings. Only a person who has received such undeserved mercy that comes to us from God can truly understand how to extend mercy to others. It is still a work in progress for this selfish soul.
Just as in the days of Jesus with the fierce Roman warriors and gladiators and attention-seeking Pharisees, mercy is frowned upon in our society. Compassion is directed at the wrong things or for the wrong reasons or to promote causes. For example, how many of you immediately felt bad for the dog in the picture without also seeing the desperate state of the human being? Society demands that we must be tough, the first to say what we are really thinking, the first to put down or mock those who are showing fear or weakness. If you are struggling or left behind, it is your fault; you must have done something wrong. Sign fliers at the street corners are ignored or yelled at for being “con artists”. After all, Paul does admonish those in the early church that if they don’t work, they shouldn’t eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).
But Jesus tells us to give and give and give and not worry about whether someone may be taking advantage of our generosity. We don’t know the back stories of every beggar and homeless person we meet nor do we fully understand the actions of others that caused us emotional hurt. But we are to give and forgive. Recently, I read a devastating devotional on Desiring God, an excellent resource on Facebook and other social media run by Pastor John Piper for helping us shape our faith. In this devotional, at the link, it says that we are free from bondage to self if we err on the side of undeserving mercy and unsparing generosity. Here’s a quote from that article to give you something to think about:
At the last judgment — I’ve thought about this many times — I think Jesus will be much more prone to commend lavish generosity to the undeserving than he will be to commend how shrewd we were in keeping for ourselves our few dollars rather than giving them away. I just can’t imagine Jesus saying, “Wow, you were especially good at being shrewd at not being taken advantage of.” I don’t hear anything like that in Jesus’s teachings.
Now turning to the Enduring Word commentary by David Guzik, here is what being merciful means:
· The merciful one will show it to those who are weaker and poorer.
· The merciful one will always look for those who weep and mourn.
· The merciful one will be forgiving to others, and always looking to restore broken relationships.
· The merciful one will be merciful to the character of other people, and choose to think the best of them whenever possible.
· The merciful one will not expect too much from others.
· The merciful one will be compassionate to those who are outwardly sinful.
· The merciful one will have a care for the souls of all men.
I cried writing this - I know that I have not shown mercy to so many people for so many years of my life. This is Kingdom work, the result of that hunger for righteousness. And if you are merciful, then God is merciful to you. God’s grace and mercy are the most mysterious and life-saving gifts that can be given to us.
The next Sermon on the Mount devotional examines Matthew 5:8: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Enduring Word commentary by David Guzik used with written permission.
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