As we move through the progression Jesus describes in the beatitudes, we see the following:
Poor in spirit / destitute (v. 3) -> mourning over our sin / broken (v. 4) -> meekness / empty (v. 5) -> hunger & thirst for righteousness -> fulfillment / satisfaction (v.6)
Here is the next step in this progression:
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
(Matthew 5:7 NIV)
This beatitude has two distinctive attributes:
- This is the first beatitude where it’s about others, and not about us
- This is the first beatitude where our giving to others is prerequisite to our receiving a blessing
Up to this point, Jesus knows that we were in no shape to share with others – anything given would have been for the wrong (selfish) reasons, and not from a pure heart and not out of the abundance of God’s goodness to us.
You could argue that God’s mercy had previously been poured out on the person, through every previous Beatitude step Jesus described so far. And you would be correct. No argument there. But God’s design is that we operate out of the abundance of our hearts. And to do that, we must be rid of the junk in our hearts, and allow Him to fill the empty space with His love, His mercy, and His righteousness.
When we invite Jesus in to transform our lives, we progress from just surviving on God’s mercy to thriving and having extra and sharing with others. Ministry becomes both fruitful and a joy at this point.
So what is mercy? Is it just an attitude or state of the heart? Or is it something more?
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words describes being merciful this way:
“…not simply possessed of pity but actively compassionate…”
As God changes our heart, we see life differently. We begin developing:
Eyes to see the world around us from God’s perspective.
Ears to hear the world around us from God’s viewpoint.
A heart to engage with the world around us, as God leads us.
As we develop a new sense of the world around us, what is our reaction?
Matthew records Jesus’ reaction to the crowds:
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
(Matthew 9:36 NIV)
So how much mercy should we show to others? Jesus gives us these principles:
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
(Luke 6:37-38 NIV)
Easier said than done. But with God’s help to clear our hearts, we have room for His mercy, and actually have an abundance to share with others.
Lord, we ask today for Your eyes to see, Your ears to hear, and Your heart to engage the world around us. You have been so merciful to us; may we share mercy with those in need out of the abundance You have given us.