December 18, 2013
The fifth Beatitude reads: “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
The merciful are those who show mercy. The word “mercy” has two basic meanings. One meaning is the act of extending forgiveness or pardon to those who have offended you. Another meaning is an act of compassion in extending help to those who are in need, especially toward those who are utterly helpless or hopeless. The zenith of mercy is reached when these noble acts are extended to those who are totally undeserving of your acts of kindness, for true mercy is underserved favor.
This is seen in its fullest degree as God forgives the undeserving sinner for all his transgressions against Him and washes him clean and makes him a new creature. Mercy is an extension of love and love covers a multitude of sins and transgressions, both toward God and toward man.
Psalms 136:1 says: “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” The latter phrase of this scripture, “his mercy endureth for ever,” appears 26 times in this chapter alone and another 15 times in four other books of the Bible. It seems that God wants His creation to have some insight into the depth of His merciful Being.
Not only is God merciful, but He instructs us to be merciful as well. Luke 6:36 expresses this thought. “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” The word “as” in this verse of scripture means “like” or “in the same manner of.” If God’s mercy lasts for ever, then is there ever a time that we can be excused form showing mercy? It’s a tall order isn’t it? But, it can only come about through love. If we love others as all Christians should, then it is not hard to show mercy to our fellowman who is in need. Love is an attribute of God. God’s love in us will cause us to show forth this Godly attribute toward others just as God has extended it to us. If there ever was a time when this world needed love and mercy, it is now.
A beautiful scripture in 2 Samuel 22:26 states: “With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.” This agrees with our featured Beatitude, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” Mercy begets mercy. The bottom line is if we desire mercy (underserved favor) from God, we must be willing to extend it to our fellowman as well.