BEATITUDES SERIES: A Culture of Mercy
MATTHEW 5:7: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
A MERCY STORY
Mercy is like two farmers who had two fields next to each other. Each farmer came out on the same morning to prepare their fields and to plant seed. They looked at each other and went about their work. Farmer Smith went about his work and planted seed the way he knew how which was how his father had taught him. Farmer Jones was planting seed and noticed what was happening in the other field and laughed and carried on. He shouted and made fun of his neighbor because of poor farming technique and how nothing would grow. By the end of the day, both farmers had planted their fields.
That night there was a furious storm with mighty wind and much rain. The next morning both farmers went out to inspect their fields. Farmer Jones, who had jeered his neighbor and loudly bullied Farmer Smith, found that in the storm all his seed had been blown away or washed away. He basically had an empty field. He also had used up all his seed so he had nothing. Farmer Smith went to inspect his field and found everything was fine. In fact, he even had extra seed in the barn which had survived the storm.
The two farmers met at the fence between their fields and compared notes. Farmer Jones was downcast. He feared for the future. Farmer Smith, who had extra seed, went to his barn, got seed, and hefted the bags over the fence to his neighbor.
Matthew 5:7 in what we call the Beatitudes which is part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is not the only passage in the Bible about mercy. The Bible is full of passages that speak about the mercy of God and teach about mercy. There are stories about mercy. Jesus tells several parables about mercy. Jesus’ death on the cross is perhaps our ultimate example of mercy as we think about mercy, what it means, and what it means for us.
Mercy is a bridge that God built so that He could relate to you and me and interact with us.
Mercy is from love, compassion, and is a cousin of grace.
Mercy is choosing a different path when we have the power to hurt someone back.
Mercy is not getting what we do deserve.
Mercy is Jesus.
Mercy is an act of kindness when we justly deserve something else.
Mercy is going two miles when we only have to go one.
Mercy is doing that thing 3 and 4 times when you should have only done it once.
I do not think that mercy is a normal way that you and I operate. Most of the time when we get hurt, we instinctively seek out ways to even the scales and hurt someone back. “Even scales” means everything is right in our world. That is human nature. It is an “eye for eye” and “tooth for tooth” type of mentality which is normal in our world!
Jesus Christ did not come so you and I could follow Him and be normal. Jesus Christ came so that we would follow Him and be like Him. Those of us who follow Him and choose Him as our Savior and Lord shift our minds and hearts and attitudes to be more like Him and less like our natural selves. Mercy is one of those areas.
MERCY IS NOT
Mercy is not a disease of the soul that makes a person weak.
Mercy is not letting someone get away with being a bad person.
Mercy is not letting pain be pain, but growing from it and changing it.
Mercy is not normal.
Mercy comes when you and I make a decision to be kind and compassionate to people instead of pressing for justice or rightness or our way or what we deserve. This is not always easy because the decision to be merciful is not easy. The decision to be merciful means we are taking the power we have to get even or make things right or letting someone deservedly suffer and we are choosing a different path. I firmly believe that you and I must make the choice to be merciful in our relationships and in difficult situations. We can decide to be merciful or we can decide to press home our rights and what we deserve. We can decide to elevate our natural selves or we can decide to follow the spiritual path God has laid out for us.
CREATE A CULTURE OF MERCY
The end part of this short verse is a bit troubling as I think about applying this verse. I don’t think mercy is something that we can earn from God… I think being merciful is simply who He is… so the verse is not saying that if we are merciful to the people around us that God will give us a lump of mercy. Being merciful is not a way to earn more mercy.
Here is the troubling part. If I teach that we are to be merciful so we can get mercy from others, I think I have done us all a disservice. Being merciful is a quality of the Almighty God that He has shown us and we are to emulate. It is given. It is a gift. It cannot be earned by us being merciful to others. Mercy should be in us and follow us and as we hunger and thirst after God… we become people of mercy and so do those around us.
I believe Jesus is wanting us to constantly be a person who shows mercy and cultivates a bubble of mercy around us. I give you mercy. You give me mercy. We are merciful to one another. We have a whole church full of people who are merciful and we create a bubble of mercy around us because… we need it. When we share the Gospel Message, mercy is a huge part of the message because Jesus is mercy. Mercy is a way of living opposite of the world.