Beatitude 5: The Blessings of Mercy
Many are the blessings of mercy. They touch the critical parts of our spiritual and physical life. Jesus said:
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
Mercy has not always been regarded as a positive trait. In some cultures, it was even viewed as a sign of character weakness. Nevertheless, in most major religions, it is identified as one of the attributes of God.
Jesus brought us many spiritual truths beyond our understanding and experience and explained them more clearly than anybody else did before Him. Among these truths, He showed us God as our loving Father, God’s perspective about mercy, our need for mercy, and the benefits that mercy produces.
WHAT IS MERCY?
Mercy is the compassionate treatment of those in distress.
We all want and need mercy when we are in need.
Often the word mercy and pity are used interchangeably, but they have a different meaning.
- Pity is feeling sorry for someone. Pity without corresponding action is of little impact and hypocritical.
- Mercy is active. It implies compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; it involves forgiving and lenient or compassionate treatment.
GOD IS MERCIFUL
The Word of God shows us that God is merciful and kind towards us. Mercy, applied to God, is an act of divine compassion and favor.
THE LORD IS MERCIFUL AND GRACIOUS, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. 9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. (Psalm 103:8-13)
All God’s blessings are acts of mercy. He does not deal with us according to our sins.
As descendants of Adam, we inherited his sinful nature (Romans 5:12). Therefore, because of God’s holiness, we cannot approach God based on our deeds. Nevertheless, God loves us and, in His wisdom, from the beginning, God devised a way to exercise His mercy and at the same time, uphold His justice.
IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
- The Law identifies man’s transgressions and expresses God’s justice by establishing man’s guilt.
- Because of His mercy, God accepts a substitute to take the punishment for man and thus cover man from the consequences of his transgressions.
Ceremonially this concept was expressed as follows:
- The Ark of the Covenant contained the Law of Moses and embodied God’s judgment of transgressions (Exodus 25:10).
- The lid of the Ark called the Mercy Seat (Hebrew: כפורת, Kapporet; “atonement piece”) symbolically represented the covering (Exodus 25:17). This lid was a golden plate on which the High Priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice seven times on the Day of Atonement to symbolically reconcile God and His covenant people.
However, this was only a shadow of good things to come with Jesus.
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4)
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
In the New Testament, a New Covenant was established between God and man manifesting God’s mercy. The New Covenant was ratified by the blood of Jesus, and the symbols of the Old Covenant become our experience.
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. (Hebrews 8:6-7)
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:18-19)
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. (Ephesians 1:7)
Now believers can come boldly before the throne of Grace
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
In the Gospels, when people went to Jesus for healing saying, “Lord have mercy!” Jesus never sent them away disappointed, but He ministered to them and healed them.
SAVED BY GOD’S MERCY
The blessings of mercy are a manifestation of our salvation. It is through faith that we receive from God our salvation, spiritual growth, and anything else, and because of His mercy.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but ACCORDING TO HIS MERCY HE SAVED US, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)
NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES INSTRUCTIONS ON MERCY
Often the merciful are considered those who help the poor, but mercy goes beyond compassion,
Quite a few passages in the New Testament give us God’s instructions on mercy.
THE SECOND COMMANDMENT
Jesus said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
The epistle of James expands on this concept.
If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:15)
JESUS CORRECTED OLD TESTAMENT TEACHING
In Matthew, chapter 5, Jesus corrected some Old Testament ideas:
- On getting even:
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.‘
- On responding to evil behavior towards us:
39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.
- On being generous:
42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
- On loving our enemies:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 THAT YOU MAY BE SONS OF YOUR FATHER in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
- On being rewarded for doing what is right:
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
- On imitating our Heavenly father:
48 Therefore YOU SHALL BE PERFECT, JUST AS YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN IS PERFECT.
HAVING MERCY AND FORGIVING OTHERS
Our forgiving others and having mercy are firmly connected and have an impact on our relationship with God.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus stressed the importance and consequences of forgiving others as we address God in prayer.
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14)
Then he explained God’s perspective about having mercy even of sinners.
And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”(Matthew 9:11-13 )
PRINCIPLES OF FORGIVENESS
- Not forgiving others results in not being able to receive forgiveness ourselves and to be subject to the torment of demonic activity. The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant shows us some important principles about forgiving and having mercy toward others. When we do not forgive, the evil committed towards us takes us captive..
Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denari; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:23-35)
- It is more difficult to forgive and have compassion on someone who did hurt us. To forgive we must deal with our feelings. Forgiveness requires sending away the negative emotions and feelings we may have towards an offender. When we have forgiven, the offense is no longer a hindrance to our mercy.
- We should be willing to keep forgiving an offender even if he repeats the offense. When we forgive, Heavenly Father will forgive us when we keep sinning. He expects us to do the same for others.
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22)
LAW OF SOWING AND REAPING
God established the Law of Sowing and Reaping, an universal spiritual law that works in our life. Our spiritual life, our feelings, our behavior and our results are closely related to each other.
Paul writes in the epistle to the Galatians:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. (Galatians 6:7)
The book of Psalms shows that this Law also impacts our ability to connect with God.
With the merciful, You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man, You will show Yourself blameless; with the pure, You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious, You will show Yourself shrewd. (Psalms 18:25-26)
JESUS IS OUR EXAMPLE
Jesus’ life is the example to follow in everything and to understand the blessings of mercy. He is the best example of mercy and forgiveness.
- Jesus had compassion toward the sinners, the sick and those who were in need. Many Scriptures show that He forgave their sins, healed all their diseases and provided for their needs.
And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:14)
- Even when He was dying on the cross, Jesus forgave those who crucified Him. (Luke 23:34)
- Jesus achieved the most glorious victory ever won by any man. (Philippians 2:9-11). He overcame sin and death for all men and now sits at the right hand of the Father. There is even more in His victory, and it will soon become evident.
And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “FATHER, FORGIVE THEM, FOR THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY DO.” And they divided His garments and cast lots. (Luke 23:33-34)
The blessings of mercy are an essential factor in our spiritual experience and in the blessings we receive from God.
- God forgives us and deals with us mercifully
- God asks you to forgive others and deal with others mercifully
- Our ability to receive God’s mercy is dependent on our mercy towards others
God will bless you if you apply the principles described in this article.
“Blessed are the merciful, because they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7)