The Joy of Mercy

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus delivered several beatitudes, or “blessed” sayings. The Lord taught His disciples how they could be truly happy by identifying character traits of the joyous. Among those exhortations, Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). The wise man in Proverbs 14:21: “He who despises his neighbor sins; but he who has mercy to the poor, happy is he.” Extending mercy to those around us will result in joy.

It has been said that grace is getting what you do not deserve, while mercy is not getting what you do deserve. How many people can say they deserve salvation? The prophet Isaiah said, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). The apostle Paul reminds us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). As one of my Bible teachers often said, “You can’t get ‘all’-er than ‘all.’” In other words, there is no one excluded from the word “all.”

Without God’s mercy, we are without hope. But God provides mercy to those who extend mercy. Conversely, those who are unmerciful toward their brother will face harsher judgment from the Almighty. “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

When Peter asked how many times he should forgive his brother in Matthew 18, suggesting that seven times should surely be sufficient, Jesus answered, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” He then told a parable about an unmerciful man who, despite the great mercy shown to him, was unforgiving of his brother. His master “delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.” Jesus concluded, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

The bottom line is this: if you crave God’s mercy, be merciful to your fellow man!

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