“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” — Matthew 5:7
Normally, when we think of mercy, we think of withholding someone’s just punishment. Our 5-year-old deserves a swat, but in mercy … we only give him a scolding. We deserve a ticket after blowing through a stop sign, but in mercy … the police officer lets us off with only a warning. A convicted felon deserves three years in prison, but in mercy … the judge only gives probation.
That’s normally the kind of thing we think of when we hear the word mercy. But that’s not what Jesus focuses on in Matthew 5:7 when he says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” As he delivers this fifth beatitude in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ main focus in is on active kindness and compassion shown to the poor and the hurting.
In Matthew 9:27, two blind men called out to Jesus, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” They desperately needed a healing. So, they cried out for mercy … and Jesus gave them mercy.
15:22, a woman whose son was demon-possessed cried out to Jesus, “Lord, Son of
David, have mercy on me.” And of course, Jesus did. In Matthew 17:15 a father
whose son suffered greatly from seizures knelt at Jesus’ feet and said, “Lord,
have mercy on my son.” And once again, Jesus did.
Time and time again, Jesus showed compassion, kindness and mercy to those who were poor and hurting. And he did this because mercy is one of God’s greatest character traits. Psalm 103:8 says: “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8). “The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made” (Psalm 145:9). “[God’s] mercies never fail. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). And because mercy is one of God’s greatest character traits, heaven is full of mercy. So, as you and I are called to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth, one of the most important things that God calls us to bring to our corner of the world is—you guessed it—mercy.
We must show that we are followers of our heavenly Lord by extending undeserved mercy to those around us. I emphasize the word “undeserved” because mercy—by definition—is ALWAYS undeserved. How can you possibly give a second chance to those around you who don’t deserve a second chance? Because Jesus gave YOU a second chance when you didn’t deserve it. How can you find the time and energy to show compassion and mercy to the broken people around you? Because Jesus showed YOU compassion and mercy when you were broken. How can you muster the motivation to help a homeless man who smells like urine, or a family member who does nothing but complain, or a freeloader friend who doesn’t even say, “Thank you”? You can do it because you know that Jesus showed you kindness and mercy when you smelled bad, complained and were ungrateful.
Pastor John Piper says it so well: “Mercy comes from mercy. Our mercy to each other comes from God’s mercy to us…. The key to becoming a merciful person is to become a broken person. You get the power to show mercy from the real feeling in your heart that you owe everything you are and have to sheer divine mercy. Therefore, if we want to become merciful people, it is imperative that we cultivate a view of God and ourselves that helps us to say with all our heart that every joy and virtue … of our lives is owing to the free and undeserved mercy of God.”
If we are followers of Jesus Christ, you and I have both stepped out from under the storm clouds of heaven to be bathed in the mercy of God. And everyone in your little corner of the world needs to experience that same slice of heaven: to be bathed in God’s mercy—through you. Our world needs less of our judgment and more of our mercy. Our world needs less of us giving people what they deserve and more of giving people what they don’t deserve: kindness, forgiveness, and compassion.
In Christ’s kingdom, poor and hurting people are a higher priority than us getting enough sleep. Poor and hurting people are a higher priority than eating three square meals a day. And poor and hurting people are a higher priority than our precious schedules. Showing Christ’s mercy to poor and hurting people will cost you—a lot. But show them mercy anyway. And as we do, guess what? What goes around comes around. As we forgive others, God will forgive us. And as we give others undeserved kindness and mercy, God will give us undeserved kindness and mercy. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
Dane Davis is the Pastor
of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service
tomorrow at 9 a.m. at