Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Matthew 5:7 (ESV)
As Christians we can attest to the mercy we have received. It was according to his mercy that God gave us new birth (Ephesians 2:4; 1 Peter 1:3). It was according to God’s mercy that he saved us (Titus 3:5). By his sovereign choice God extended his abounding mercy to his elect in saving grace (Romans 9:16, 18). Those who have obtained God’s mercy (the elect) are even referred to as “vessels of mercy” (Romans 9:23).
God’s mercy is an expression of his glory and goodness; his character. After Moses made a plea to God to see his glory, God hid Moses in the cleft of a rock and made all his glory pass before him. As he was passing before Moses God proclaimed his name, The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. (Exodus 34:6 ESV)
Jesus gave us an illustration of how God’s love has been extended to us and also the judgment we receive if we do no extend mercy to others. Recorded in Matthew’s gospel is the story of a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. One of his servants owed the king an amount so large he could not pay it back. The king ordered his entire family to be sold. The servant made a plea for the king to have patience with him. The king had mercy on the servant and forgave the debt. However, the servant having found a fellow servant who owed him money, showed him no mercy and had him thrown into prison. Upon hearing of the wicked servant’s actions, the king rebuked him for his lack of mercy and delivered him to the jailers until he should pay all his debt (Matthew 18:23-35).
When we are merciful we express the character of God and display his glory. In fact, it is for the display of his glory that God commands us to show the same mercy toward others as he has shown us.
To be merciful is to enter into the misery of our neighbor and mourn with him. And in so doing relieve his misery according to our ability. Jesus said when we do this to the least of his brothers, we do so to him (Matthew 25:34-40). Jesus also commanded us to love our enemies, to do good and lend expecting nothing in return; to be merciful even as our Father is merciful (Luke 6:32-36). We are also to forgive as we have been forgiven (Colossians 3:13). We are to show the mercy (compassion) of God to others with fear and cheerfulness (Jude 1:23; Romans 12:8).
The blessing for those who show mercy is that mercy will be shown to them. Speaking of God, the psalmist wrote, With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless. (Psalm 18:25 ESV) Solomon wrote, Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed. (Proverbs 19:17 ESV)
James wrote, For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13 ESV) Our receiving mercy is the source and motivation for us extending mercy. Our extension of mercy to others is the basis of receiving mercy that we will need in the future. And we are in need of God’s mercies every day (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Are you merciful to others in the same way that God is merciful to you?
Scriptures for meditation: