‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.’
Matthew 5: 7 NRSV
The fifth Beatitude is about being merciful. Some English translations substitute the word “kindness”, or “compassion,” for the word “merciful” in the NRSV, and many other translations. The Message speaks of “those who care.” The point of these words with overlapping meanings is that when we show kindness to others, even when it may not be deserved, God recognizes such acts of love, and promises to reward them.
What would our world be like without mercy? What if there were so second chances? No forgiveness? No do-overs? No redemption? My guess is that the world would seem harsher, more unforgiving, and just plain meaner. It is a very good thing that there are people in our world today who show mercy, and who forgive others.
This Beatitude stands out from first four Beatitudes in that the promise included in this beatitude mirrors the behavior of those blessed. The merciful receive mercy. This is not a small point, because the truth is that we all want to receive mercy, but not everyone wants to act mercifully towards others. Particularly when we have been deeply wronged, showing mercy is the furthest thing from our minds! Yet our Lord emphasized, even when he was teaching His disciples to pray, His high expectations for those who are forgiven. How are we to pray? How should we forgive? Remember the line from the Lord’s prayer: “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive the sins of those who sin against us.” There it is again! To receive forgiveness, we are expected to forgive.
When we are honest with ourselves, it is humbling to realize we need mercy. In the eyes of the Lord, all of us have sinned. We are guilty. By strict justice, none of us would be saved. To be saved, we need God’s mercy. Therefore, mercy no longer becomes just a desire, or a want. No! When we think about it: mercy is a necessity for us. It is a need. We all need God’s mercy.
Fortunately, the good news is that God freely gives His mercy, and His forgiveness, to all who will receive it, through His son Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
The only expectation which comes along with this forgiveness is that we love God, and forgive other people, by showing mercy and love towards them. God expects the forgiven to forgive. And when they do, He blesses them. Let us go forth this day, and every day, to show mercy to others, and to receive the blessing of mercy from Jesus Himself.
“What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6: 8 NIV
We offer thanks and praise to You for Your amazing love, kindness, mercy, and forgiveness. In our hearts, we know we are not perfect. Yet You love us anyway. As those who are forgiven and redeemed, may we show forth Your love and grace to all who need to receive it. Let us lead with love and mercy, rather than judgment. We pray this prayer in the name of Your son, and our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.