“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
The word “blessed” doesn’t refer to those who die and then live with God for eternity in a state of bliss and blessedness. You can be blessed right now in this life … today. The beautiful thing about Jesus is that He does not hold an unattainable, every-elusive promise of blessing in the afterlife over our heads while giving us nothing now for this life. Instead, in the Sermon on the Mount He is pointing to deeper, spiritual truths that can bless us in our lives, today, right now. Christian, you can be blessed in this life.
Also, this is not a false or self-generated, goofy happiness. This is not a blessing that results from money, security, or power. Being blessed as a Christian is not the same as being blessed by the world’s standards. The missionaries, the persecuted and the humble are blessed by God. Health and wealth preachers, CEO’s, and movie starts are blessed in a worldly sense. The word “blessed” in the Bible refers to the joy that is a result of salvation in Jesus Christ. You can be fully satisfied if you are saved by Jesus; you cannot be fully satisfied if you are not saved by Jesus. Jesus is the source of our blessing. If you don’t know Him, you can cry out to Him even now for eyes that see and ears that hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus is my greatest good, and therefore He is the greatest good for everyone else.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
There is an element of reciprocity to the Scriptures. The Old Testament Laws are incredibly specific in this way – if you steal, you must give back with interest. If you harm another, you must pay them on an exact scale. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. Even Jesus applies this principle in a certain form in the Golden Rule. So when Jesus says this, it’s not a shocker. It is logical that those who are compassionate and loving are shown compassion and love in return.
But what is interesting about this is that Jesus is speaking to a huge crowd that is made up of poor people: shepherds, fishermen, the sick, diseased, lame, domestic servants, laborers … they were the least in Roman society. How can Jesus expect these poor people to GIVE anything? The merciful are typically those who care for and help the most needy and most helpless among us: where you find the merciful, you will also find the poor, the diseased, the outcast, the disabled, the widow … those who need the most mercy. They were the ones who needed this mercy! And yet Jesus tells them to be the givers of mercy.
What about you and me? How in the world would a life that is invested in pouring out everything I have to the poorest result in “fullness” and receiving “mercy”? The needy cannot repay me. The poor, outcast, and alien have no power or resources to reward me with. Being kind to the “least of these” doesn’t bring fortune or fame, but as Christians, our goal is different from the world’s goal – we seek eternal things, not temporal pleasures. We serve God, not money. We exalt Christ, not ourselves. Jesus is saying that the way up is the way down. The proud will be humbled, the humble will be exalted. Read what God says about this in Isaiah 58:
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.
“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
When Christ is the goal and direction of my life, when I know and love Him as Savior and Lord, not only does He extend mercy to me (mercy is the foundation of God’s covenant, the bedrock of my salvation) but He also enables me to show mercy to others. We love because He first loved us. We can show mercy because He has extended mercy to us.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—
by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Do you see the connection? God is rich in mercy to me through Jesus. He loves me, saves me and seats me in heavenly places. I did not do anything to earn this. My works earn me nothing. At the same time, this extraordinary gift of God elicits a response from me, one of overflowing abundance. I have been given a priceless, limitless gift. It’s value is beyond compare, and I naturally desire and want to share it with those around me. The gift compels me to share it and extend it to others. 2 Corinthians 5:14-18 says that the love of Christ compels (controls) us. And verse 18 says that we are given the ministry of reconciliation. The gift of God compels us, God’s mercy presses me to share that mercy with others, and therefore bring them back to God.
So, the question for you and me is:
DO I SHOW MERCY? IS MERCY A HALLMARK OF MY LIFE?
I encourage you to think about this today. Do you extend mercy to others? If not, why not? As always, remember that Jesus is the source of mercy and grace. He is your treasure, He is your joy. He enables and compels you to extend mercy to those who do not know Him. You and I have been given the ministry of reconciliation. Let us do what God has given us to do, with great joy!