The Give and Take of Mercy

October 10, 2014

The Give and Take of Mercy

               Our attitude is more important than our actions.  The quantity and quality of our actions is determined by our attitude.  The beatitudes can be considered as a lesson in attitudes.  A careful consideration and application of the beatitudes will help us greatly in having the right attitude.

Men need to have the right relationship with God instead of mere religion. Much of religion is exterior.  It is like a coat of paint to cover all the bad on the inside.  Many times people do things to make them look good.  Business people sometimes attend church because it gives them prestige.  It is possible to be religious and wicked, both at the same time.  Religion doesn’t change the way you are; it just changes your appearance.  Many times people do acts of mercy with the wrong motive.  They want to be seen and praised.  It makes them look good.  As we shall see from this article, that isn’t the blessing we should expect to receive for being merciful.

Matthew 5:7 gives a promise to the merciful.  “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” One cannot be truly merciful without having a heartfelt desire to help others.  To be merciful demands that we give up something of ourselves.  We can’t be merciful and selfish, both at the same time.

There are innumerable ways of showing mercy.  The merciful take into consideration the wellbeing of others around them.  They realize that their actions may have a good or bad impact on others.  He wipes mud off his shoes before he enters the house.  He expresses gratitude for what others do for him. The merciful not only come to the aid of those who are suffering, they also take precautions to prevent suffering on the part of others.  For example, they think of the wellbeing of their neighbors.  They don’t let their dog bark or their rooster crow early in the morning when others are still sleeping.  They don’t play loud music and obligate their neighbors to listen to it.  They offer to clear an elderly widow’s driveway after a snow storm.

There are innumerable ways to make people suffer.  Most people, without realizing it, do more damage with their tongue than they do with their hands.  Some contaminate the environment with a dirty mouth.  Some hurt others by criticism or insinuations.  We hurt others also with our hands.  Children must be taught to respect that which belongs to others. We should be careful about what we do with that which belongs to others. Merciful people buy auto insurance, not just to protect themselves, but to be able to pay damage they may do to others.  The merciful feel shame and remorse if others suffer because of things they have done.  Living by what is called “the golden rule” helps us to be merciful.  Jesus gave it to us in Matthew 7:12.  “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

In the Bible we find some excellent examples of what it is to be merciful.  In II Samuel chapter 9 we read of how David wanted to show mercy to someone in the family of Saul.  He had suffered much from Saul, yet he wanted to show mercy to the family.  He was now the king, and it was in his power to show mercy.  Saul’s son, Jonathan, was a good friend of David.  David was told that Jonathan had a son whose name was Mephibosheth.  He was crippled.  David sent some of servants to find Mephibosheth and bring him to the palace.  When he stood before the king, he invited him to eat at his table as one of his servants.  From what it says in verse 13 we know that it wasn’t just an invitation for one meal.  “So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet.”

In Luke 10:30-37 Jesus gave us the parable of the Good Samaritan.  It is the story of a man who was willing to invest some of his time and money in a man who fell among thieves.  Others saw the poor man lying there along the road, but they weren’t willing to do anything for him.  The Good Samaritan was under no obligation to help him, but he had mercy on him.  Mercy is what we do for others, even though we are under no obligation to do it.

The greatest example of mercy in the Bible is what Jesus did for us guilty sinners.  Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” We are the recipients of his mercy if we accept his sacrifice for us.  Suppose that poor wounded man had refused to accept the Good Samaritan’s offer of mercy.  Would he have been wise?  He was incapable of helping himself.  It is even more foolish for sinful men to refuse God’s offer of mercy to them. We are condemned according to John 3:18.  “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  There is nothing we ourselves can do to remove the condemnation from us.  We need God’s mercy.  We must accept it.

Each of the beatitudes concludes with the promise of a blessing.  This one ends with the promise of mercy in exchange for mercy we have shown.  Proverbs 27:1 says, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” We never know when we may stand in need of mercy.  If we have shown mercy, we can expect to receive it.  It is God who dispenses to each his due.  He keeps record of the times we have been merciful.

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