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  • James Stegall

Blessed Are the Merciful

Those who are merciful are also blessed with mercy in return. Jesus reveals in this beatitude that God sees our hearts and the mercy that is in them toward others, as well as the truth that he will reward us with mercy according to the mercy we show to others. Forgiveness is generally what I think of first when thinking of mercy, yet mercy is more than just forgiveness, it is a heart posture through which we view and live with the world around us. I want to save the subject of forgiveness for our future discussion about Matthew 6:14-15.

Mercy is how we view and live amongst the needy in this world. We mustn’t exclude the word "live" from that sentence. If we view the world around us mercifully without also taking action, we are doing nothing more but living with well-wishes. Mercy requires action, whether that be forgiving of wrongdoing or alleviating circumstances that are causing harm. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says it well, that mercy is "not only feeling pity; it means a great desire, and indeed an endeavor, to do something to relieve the situation." (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, pg. 84).

To be strong in mercy, we must also see the mercy that God has given us. We are merciful to the extent that we understand how God has been merciful with us. As we see how God has forgiven us our sins, has alleviated countless hardships, and been a continually helpful presence in times of need, we are inspired to provide that same grace to others through the power of the Holy Spirit. As C.S. Lewis said, "To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you." Seeing properly the way God has helped us through myriad situations and forgiven the inexcusable in us causes us to be that same light in the world. In his play, The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare said that mercy is "mightiest in the mightiest." In a world in which success is gained through ruthlessness and politics, may we instead be mighty in mercy and meekness.

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