“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:6)
Was there ever a time in your life when you did not get what you truly deserved? Maybe it was an officer who let you off with a warning or a friend who lent you money knowing you could never pay him back. Mercy is unique in our lives because it is almost as equally hard to give as it is to receive.
Before we begin to truly understand what mercy looks like in action, we must first look into the context of this beatitude from Jesus’ powerful sermon recorded in Matthew 5. It is another spiritual blessing for those who believe in the Lord, which affects how we see God and how we interact with each other.
The word “mercy” throughout the Bible has been associated with forgiveness and forbearance; it is abundant compassion, true love and kindness. In fact, it is part of the very nature of God. In 2 Corinthians 1:3, the Apostle Paul refers to the Lord as, “the Father of mercy and the God of all comfort.” He encompasses the entire definition of the word mercy in just His being and actions!
Not only is God merciful, but He calls us to be merciful as well. Luke 6:36 makes this plain by recording Jesus’ instruction, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” But it is difficult and it is costly to extend mercy. Showing others mercy, particularly those we deem underserving, is counter to our sinful natures and can only be done with Christ in our lives!
Ephesians 4:32 makes this calling clear when it says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” As believers, we are called to follow Christ’s example and not only forgive one another, but act with authentic compassion and kindness towards each other as well.
How can you give up your “right” to get even with someone after they have wronged you or let go of someone’s debt against you? It can only be done with Christ! Not just because He showed mercy on us so we should do likewise, but also because He is the ultimate authority and will judge the world in the end. He will deal with all the wrongs that have been committed; it is not up to us!
In this way, we are blessed! God shows us mercy daily. Each day we live knowing we have been given the ultimate gift of mercy through the love, compassion and forgiveness extended to us on the cross of Christ. Since we have received God’s mercy, we can freely extend it to others as well.
This is a double blessing, because when we offer mercy we not only point to Christ and what He has done for us, but we are also more likely to receive mercy from those around us too. This compassion and lightheartedness is the first step in cultivating a forgiving, Jesus-focused world!