Beatitudes: Blessed are the Merciful

By: Bill Bratt

One of Jesus' earliest sermons was the "Sermon on the Mount" and He gave eight Beatitudes to His disciples.

'Beatitudes' are defined as 'Supreme blessings or happiness.' 'Blessed' is defined as 'Made sacred or consecrated', 'bringing happiness.'

Let's read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, "And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. {2} Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: {3} "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {4} Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. {5} Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. {6} Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. {7} Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. {8} Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. {9} Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. {10} Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {11} "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. {12} "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Letís focus in on the fifth beatitude in verse 7, "Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy."

Mercy is a word that is used 276 times in the Bible and the word merciful is used 40 times. The phrase "His mercy endures forever" occurs 43 times in the Bible.

Mercy is defined as: "Kind and compassionate treatment of an offender. A disposition to be kind and forgiving and compassionate."

Having mercy means to withhold punishment from offenders who deserve it. In a wider sense it means to help others in need who cannot help themselves.

God shows us mercy in sparing us from judgment from our sins and He demonstrates kindness to us through the saving work of Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Following Jesusí model prayer in Matthew 6, Jesus said, "If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. {15} But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." For us to be forgiven we must forgive. For us to receive mercy, we must extend mercy.

It is a simple concept. Look at yourself in the mirror, and think about the way you treat people, and you know if you show mercy or not. Remember, if you show mercy, you will obtain mercy.

Most of the opportunities you have to show mercy is in your heart and mind in forgiving and showing compassion for others, by saying, "I am not going to offend or punish this person for his transgression."

Punishment probably does more harm on the person inflicting it than it does to the person who receives it. Jesus said to "Love your enemies" (Matthew 5:44). If we hold a grudge it can eat us up inside, affecting our mind and physical health. It is better to have mercy like God does and forgive and forget. Something else to think about, if you are merciful and not vengeful then people will be less likely to be vengeful to you.

Letís look at a brief example of mercy with Jesusí Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:21-35 "Peter came to Jesus and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" {22} Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."

The intent of Jesusí answer is that we should always forgive and have mercy on our brother.

Jesus continues in verse 23, "Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. {24} "And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents (A large sum of money). {25} "But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. {26} "The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' {27} "Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt."

Remember compassion is a quality of mercy.

Verse 28, "But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (A small sum of money); and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!' {29} "So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' {30} "And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. {31} "So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. {32} "Then his master, called him, and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. {33} 'Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' {34} "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. {35} "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.""

Did you notice the result if we do not have compassion and mercy on others? God will be angry and will punish those who "from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."

There are many examples of mercy and compassion in the Bible. I will mention one more. The account is in Genesis 37-45 and is the story of Joseph who was sold by his brothers into slavery and later Joseph became a top official in Egypt who was in charge of the granaries in the time of a great drought. Joseph had mercy on his brothers and was able to provide wheat for them and his father Jacob whose name was Israel.

With each beatitude there is a reward. In this beatitude the reward is: "The merciful shall obtain mercy." The greatest act of mercy that we can obtain is from Jesus Christ our High Priest, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. {16} Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:14-16).

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