Sermon on the Mount – The Merciful
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
(Matthew 5:7, NIV)
“Revenge is a dish best served cold.” This phrase, or some variation of it, has been around since at least the 17th century, in a translation of Don Quixote. It is not uncommon to hear people use the phrase today. Since the days of Cain and Able, a person often seeks revenge for a perceived wrong against them. There are entire portions of the internet dedicated to people sharing their stories of revenge. And other portions of the internet dedicated to helping people plan their episodes of revenge.
As followers of Jesus Christ, however, we are not to follow the ways of the world. We are not to submit to ideas of the world, but instead, look at what Jesus tells us to do. In this fifth beatitude of His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructs us not to resort to revenge. We are to be merciful to all we encounter.
Being merciful is showing forgiveness and compassion to those in need. God has certainly shown His mercy to us. Throughout the Bible, there are numerous examples of Him extending mercy to His chosen children. The ultimate example of His mercy is the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross as payment for all our sins. Being merciful is not about being fair. None of us deserve God’s forgiveness. None of us deserved salvation. But God has given us both because He loves us.
During His time on earth, Jesus also extended mercy to the people that He met. He healed the sick and the lame. He ate and spent time with the tax collectors and those that were outcasts. Jesus set the ultimate example we are to follow. We must be cautious, however, that the mercy we extend is heartfelt. We cannot become like the Pharisees, who outwardly appeared to follow the Lord while holding contempt in their hearts.
Jesus’ warning that only the merciful will be shown mercy implies that mercy comes from the Lord. We do not deserve the Lord’s forgiveness for our sins. There is no earthly action we can take to earn His mercy. Only through placing our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ can we receive God’s mercy. Part of placing our faith in Jesus is changing our hearts. We should strive to live a life as Christ exemplified. This includes extending mercy to others!
Not one of us is perfect. We all make mistakes. And at some point, we have all wronged another person. Wouldn’t you like to be shown mercy, and forgiven for your actions? The just punishment for our sins against God is death. He, however, has granted us mercy in the form of salvation. You have committed the ultimate wrong against the Lord God. If He can show you mercy, shouldn’t you be able to show mercy to those in your life?
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