Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” – Matthew 5:7
Mercy is the mark of a good man. Such has been said for thousands of years, and such is true. Man’s nature is to seek vengeance, to seek to be the one to deal out death and judgement. Yet our Lord is the one who says, “vengeance is mine.” It is the Lord’s right to judge. And why He? For it is Him whom we have sinned against. He is the holy maker of all things, and the one to whom all praise is due. He gave to us great things, and yet we squandered our gift, and spat in the face of the giver.
Yet even then the Lord brings mercy. Christ, the creator of all that is good and the one who is the giver of all good things, went even further. He gave Himself as a sacrifice that we might be shown mercy. Instead of seeking the vengeance that is rightfully His, He gave mercy even at great cost to Himself. So too, then, must we give mercy. Christ reminded us of this fact with the parable of two servants. One owed the king of the land the ten thousand talents (the rough equivalent of $3.4B today). The king, however, forgave the debt, and let him go. The servant thanked the king and went on his way. He ran into a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarii (the rough equivalent of $5,800.00) and called in his debts immediately. The second servant didn’t have the money, so the first called law enforcement to throw the poor man into debtors’ prison. The king then, of course, let the second servant out of prison and arrested the man for whom he had forgiven the billions of dollars of debt. This story of the first servant, Christ said, is like us when we do not show mercy. “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful,” Christ taught, and so we must also be, for we have been forgiven far more than three billion dollars. And yet we would cast our brother into jail for a few thousand? Such it is when we do not heed the command to be merciful.
This beatitude that we see here calls the merciful blessed and gives us the reason for it: that God shall then be merciful to us. Does this mean that until we show mercy that God shall not? No, for “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:8) Mercy has been extended to us far beyond anything that we have every forgiven. Our very life is a mercy, for God allows sinners to continue on this earth, though they deserve immediate judgement. Yet here we see that those to whom God is merciful, that is, those to whom He has showed saving grace, they shall also be merciful. They are commanded to be merciful. And God blesses those who seek to follow his command. “Blessed is the man…” is the start to another famous passage, Psalm 1. This “blessed man” is the one who “meditates on the law day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)
While we do not show mercy as some kind of good work that earns us salvation, we cannot deny that the Lord blesses in many ways when we do good, including this kindness that we are to show to those that wrong us. No, it may not be the blessings that fulfil our earthly desires. Often people may not accept your forgiveness or will take advantage of it and abuse it. Many revile against Christians, yet the blessings we have are not merely earthly, but spiritual. To those who insist upon faithfulness, God showers blessings upon them. In their weakness, He comforts through His Word and by His Spirit. In the reviling of the wicked men, the Word reminds the Christian who it is that is on their side. His Spirit strengthens us to be strong and to endure such hardship for a time – even when we would rather make biting retorts to our enemies or cause them to suffer for what they have done to us. Indeed, our God is merciful to those who show mercy.
~ Caleb Maltby