Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Happily showing mercy

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”  Matthew 5:7

I often wonder if Jesus, when speaking these verses we know as "The Beatitudes," would know that many in today's world, especially men, would shy away from applying words like meekness and merciful, as attributes for their lives. We have allowed those two words to take on more effeminate meanings in our society today. Thus I will begin by saying the strongest and most effective Christians in the Lord's church today are those who have grasped the true meanings of the words Jesus spoke.

We think of being merciful as an attribute belonging only to God. After all, we have all been recipients of his mercy. But in these words which pertain to the way you conduct yourself in real life situations, Jesus calls on you to be merciful, and in so doing, you will be shown mercy.
The best way to explain this act of being merciful, is to point to some situations in the life and teachings of Jesus.  This is where we see mercy in action.

A woman with a poor reputation was brought before Jesus one day. This event was drawing the attention of the scribes and Pharisees, especially to see how he would deal with the woman. She had been caught in the act of adultery, which, according to the law, called for her to be put to death.  Jesus did not disagree with her accusers, but he took the situation to the level of showing how to be merciful.  Jesus turned over the responsibility of stoning this woman to death, to those who were without sin.  Her accusers left, one by one. He told her that he wasn't condemning her, but to turn from her life of sin. 

Contrast that with the way we deal with situations of disagreement today, or perhaps when we learn of the sin in a person's life, or when someone says or does something to harm us.  Usually, this calls for us to start our own personal "black list."  We learn quickly those that should be avoided, we give them a distasteful label, and we make sure everyone else knows how dangerous they are.  Such is the description of many of the divided churches we see today. The root problem is that we have not learned to be merciful.

Another instance showing mercy is in the story of the good Samaritan. There he was, the only one, the least likely one, to be of assistance to an injured man on the side of the road. The priest had seen the injured man and walked on by. Likewise the Levite had ignored him, too. But the Samaritan tended to the man's injuries, took him to safety, and promised to return and pay for any services which might be incurred during his recovery. 

Being merciful goes beyond "not wanting to get involved," and presses forward to meet people at their need.  It is the demonstration of God's love for us, when we learn to love and show mercy toward others. That's when we can come to fully appreciate his promise, "when we are merciful, we will be shown mercy."


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