Today’s beatitude focus is Matthew 5:7: “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy”. A pretty easy verse to memorize but a verse that is not so easy to live out.
Let’s begin by talking about what “mercy” is. A very common definition of mercy is “not getting the punishment I deserve”. It is a pretty simple definition but I think it’s a good one. When we extend mercy to someone, we are not punishing or giving them the full consequence that he/she deserves. We are holding back in some way. God is often described as having great mercy. God is described in Ephesians 2:4 as being “rich in mercy”. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this but how many times do we sin and not get the full consequence that could have come about? In my life that has happened more times than I can count….and that’s just this year! If we are honest, I think that’s true for all of us.
I think that mercy is a little bit like forgiveness. We are to forgive others out of the deep well of forgiveness that God has given each of His children through Jesus Christ. God has also shown us great mercy and here, in Matthew 5:7, calls each of us to be merciful. And when we demonstrate mercy to others, we receive mercy ourselves…sort of a never ending, recharging supply of mercy.
Are you a merciful person? Or do you seek to exact revenge on those who have wronged you? When you watch the news and you hear about someone who has committed a crime, does your mind go to “well, he deserves to have the book thrown at him”, or does your mind first go to thoughts like, “I wonder what might have happened to him that contributed to his actions or words”. Mercy doesn’t negate the need for punishment. Mercy focuses our attention on the opportunity for redemption and forgiveness as well as the need for consequences. God offers each of us incredible mercy through Jesus Christ. Let’s receive that mercy and then offer it to others as well.
Have a mercy-filled day.