“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
There was very little mercy in Jesus’ day. Justice, retribution and revenge were the prevailing attitudes. ‘An eye for an eye…” was the common mindset. Mercy was for the weak. Given this cultural setting, these words of Jesus undoubtedly caused a revolution in the minds of those who heard them. They were expecting to hear, “Blessed are the powerful!” Instead, they heard “blessed are the merciful.”
We must be careful to not misunderstand this beatitude. Many preach this passage as an If-Then statement. In other words, “IF you show mercy to others, THEN others will be merciful to you.” However, experience has taught us that this is not always true. But, we do know that God’s Word is true. So, this must not be the way to interpret this verse. I believe that the correct way to interpret this passage is that those who show mercy towards others will receive mercy from God. Ironically, we become more merciful when we recognize the mercy that God has already shown to us. Then, as we show mercy to others, God graciously shows more mercy to us. We should be constantly engaged in this cycle of mercy.
What does mercy look like in today’s culture? Mercy deals with the consequences or symptoms of sin. Mercy cares for the sick and helps the poor. Sickness is ultimately a result of sin entering our world. Because of sin, difficulty and hard times entered our world. Mercy helps in difficult times. Mercy is when we help those who can’t help themselves.
Forgiveness flows from mercy. Mercy says “I have been wronged, but I forgive you.” We demonstrate mercy through kindness and compassion – through sympathy and empathy. A kind word, a warm meal, a hug, a gift card, an encouraging card – all these are demonstrations of mercy.
Consider also the difference between human mercy and divine mercy. We show human mercy and receive divine mercy in return. What a difference!
Think for a minute on these two questions.
- How have you shown mercy to someone else today? this week? this month?
- Do you recognize and treasure the divine mercy that has been shown to you?