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Matthew 5:7: Mercy…Love in Action

Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

Matthew 5:7 MSG, “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.”

Jesus’ message devastates worldly attitudes, because you cannot satisfy your soul with external things. The world says, “He who dies with the most toys wins;” “You only go around once in life, so you've got to grab for all the gusto you can.”

Jesus said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own” (Luke 12:15). He also said, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33 NLT).

Just take a look at the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon. He was and heir to the royal line of King David. His palace was the most beautiful in the world, located in THE city, Jerusalem, the center of the earth, the city of God. His wealth was so immeasurable and his treasury so vast, that “silver as plentiful in Jerusalem as stone” (1 Kings 10:27). He had massive buildings, sumptuous vineyards, incredible stables, with 4,000 stalls for his chariot horses, and he had 12,000 horses” (1 Kings 4:26). “Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my reward from all my labor” (Ecclesiastes 2:10 NLT). “Now Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt; they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life” (1 Kings 4:21). “So King Solomon became richer and wiser than any other king on earth” (1 Kings 10:23NLT).

Now listen his own assessment of his life: “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 NLT).

God never says, “Blessed are the rich.” Blessed are the successful.” “Blessed are the popular.” Or “Blessed are the powerful.” And when you consider that God is in the happiness business, it’s amazing that we human persons have such a struggle to find happiness. The reason is, you will never find real happiness in this world, it’s like seeking the living among the dead.

Just look at what people do to find happiness:

They think that if they just get enough “stuff” they will be happy, but Jesus says, “Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot” (Luke 12:15 MSG).

They try entertainment hoping to find happiness, even in churches. If you want to avoid a confrontation with God turn up the volume.

Even one’s vocation can be a means of trying to find happiness. People work hard, long hours, while all eternity waits on them as they pursue wealth, fame, power and popularity. Oh, listen my friend, if you are too busy for your family, church and God you are too busy! Better be careful or you might lose them all in your pursuit of the “dream.”

You may find temporary satisfaction in bodily pleasures, an inordinate occupation with the body may make you feel good, but it can never bring real happiness.

You may find temporary amusement in alcohol, drugs, illicit sexual activity, but those activities only last long enough to take away how the fact of how unhappy you really are! Anything that just brings momentary happiness will ultimately add to your misery.

This is where we see the utter deceitfulness of sin. It is bright and cheerful at the front door, with neon’s flashing, “C’mon in, this is fun!” “Do it now!” “You only go around once in life!” But the darkness at the back door will always lead to unhappiness, dejection, broken relationships, broken homes, depression and misery. They never show in movies and TV shows the end result of adultery and drunkenness. They never show the devastated families, abused and neglected children and in many cases, the suicides caused by all of their empty pursuits.

Do you want to find real happiness? Jesus is in the happiness business! The word “Blessed” comes from the Greek word “Macharios,” from the root, “Machar,” meaning, real joy, inward bliss, and happiness. It is a character word, God and Christ are described by this word, and since believers are indwelt by Christ, and partakers of His divine nature, we are to be joyful believers.

Verse 7a: “Blessed are the merciful...”

The Roman world did not admire mercy! They admired and rewarded courage, justice, self-control and wisdom, but not mercy. The philosopher’s called mercy “a disease of the soul,” something that would cause shame. It was said that the merciful could never find success in life.

Slaves were treated like trash. The position of women and children was merciless in the Roman world. If a woman gave birth to a girl or a sickly boy the father, with a thumb’s up or a thumb’s down could have the child put to death. In a fit of anger a slave-owner could maim or kill his slave, and there would be no legal recourse.

The Greeks held similar views, thinking that mercy indicated weakness rather than strength. Aristotle wrote that pity was a troublesome emotion.

Jesus and the gospel began to change all of that. Jesus taught and practiced mercy, and He commanded His followers to show mercy. Still, American history is rampant with stories of the mistreatment of slaves, women and children, much of it done in the name of religion! Most Southern slave-owners were churchmen!

Today’s world is not too far removed from the Roman world, many people are still devalued and treated as objects of distain. Power has become the supreme deity and success the most important thing in life. Much of the world is selfish and is cruel to people whom they consider to be beneath them. Mercy is not admired, or sought after as a thing to be desired.

The Greek word for “merciful” is eleemon, “which refers to one who is actively compassionate or one who is benevolently merciful involving thought and action. It reflects being concerned about people in their need. One might say they are ‘mercy full!’ The idea is that they possess a compassionate heart leading one to acts of mercy, the purpose of which is to relieve the suffering and misery of the object of that compassion. It sometimes meant giving money to a needy person. As referring to believers…refers not merely to those who express acts of mercifulness, but who have this attribute as a result of the indwelling Spirit of Christ.” –Precept Austin (edited)

Shakespeare defined “mercy” in a speech by Portia, Act 4, scene 1 of the “Merchant of Venice.” He covered some of the qualities of mercy, but does not give a full definition.

“The quality of mercy is not strained;

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown…”

“Merciful” means “full of mercy.” Just as a graceful person is one full of grace, the merciful person is the one who is full of the fountain of mercy, one who is full of God.

“The basic idea of eleemon is to give help to the wretched, to relieve the miserable. Here the essential thought is that mercy gives attention to those in misery. From this we make the important distinction between mercy and grace. Grace is shown to the undeserving; mercy is compassion to the miserable. Thus the synonym for mercy is compassion.” –Precept Austin

Mercy can be compared to grace, but it is not grace. Paul make a distinction between grace and mercy (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4).

Grace is love when love is undeserved. Mercy is grace in action. Mercy deals with the pain, grace deals with the sin. Mercy deals with the symptoms, grace deals with the problem. Mercy offers relief from the punishment, grace offers pardon for the offense. Mercy takes away the pain, grace provides for a better condition. Mercy says, “no hell,” grace says, “heaven.” Mercy says, “I pity you,” grace says, “I pardon you.”

In the story of the Good Samaritan: Mercy recognizes the problem, grace bandages his wounds, and rents him a room. Grace and mercy are two sides of the same coin, God offers both grace and mercy. “For God so loved the world…” (that’s grace), “That He gave His only Son…” (That’s mercy). Grace loves, mercy gives.

Mercy can be compared to forgiveness, but it is not forgiveness. It goes beyond compassion and sympathy. It is a genuine compassion with a pure, unselfish motive that reaches out to help.

In other words Jesus is saying, “the people in my kingdom are givers, not takers.” It is not the weak sympathy that carnal selfishness feels, but never does anything about.

Mercy in action:

Abraham and Lot: Lot had no business in Sodom. If he had been a spiritually minded man he would have continued to walk with his uncle Abraham and obeyed the Lord. Be when he saw the well-watered plains of Sodom, he decided to move there. When Sodom was attacked, Lot suffered the consequences. He and his family were taken captive and all of their possessions were taken. Whew word got back to uncle Abraham, he could have said, “serves him right! He made his bed now he can just lie in it.” But Abraham took his servants, and with God’s help fought a battle and rescued his wayward nephew. Here’s the mercy point: Abraham had in his hand the power to hurt Lot, it is certain that he had hurt Abraham, yet in faith and love Abraham chose to show mercy. (Genesis 18)

Proverbs 11:17, “The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”

Joseph and his brethren: His brothers lied about him, caused him to suffer, attempted to kill him, and finally sold him into Egyptian bondage. But in the end, the tables are turned, Joseph has risen to become the Prime Minister of Egypt, trusted by the Pharaoh. When his starving brothers came to him for grain to feed their family, he recognized them, but they did not recognize him. He had them right where we would have wanted them. A great opportunity to get even for all they had done to him. Joseph had in his hand to hurt them, but after going out and weeping bitterly, he showed mercy, forgiving and providing for them. (Genesis 50)

David and Saul: David was the true, anointed and God appointed king of Israel, but Saul was still exercising his authority, persecuting David and his mighty men. On two occasions David had in his power and could have killed Saul, even his man wanted him to do it. But he showed mercy! David knew that his real power was not in killing Saul, but in showing mercy. When Saul died, David lamented over him, without mentioning Saul’s hatred and persecution of him. He had in his hand the power to hurt, but he showed mercy.

In each of these cases, Abraham and Lot, Joseph and his brethren, David and Saul, there was pain and the power to retaliate, but there was also faith that works through love, and this resulted in mercy. This shows that if you love God more than you hate, you will always show mercy. The act of mercy puts the one showing mercy on the throne. Abraham was in control, not Lot. Joseph and David ruled in life, not those who oppressed them.

“Mercy is integral to God’s redemptive work for man. From the time of the Fall man has had no way back to God except through His merciful grace. It is not surprising, therefore, that in the New Testament and the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint) various forms of the verb eleeo (to have mercy) are used some five hundred times.” –John MacArthur

The greatest act of mercy is seen in our Lord Jesus Christ. How simple it would have been to answer His enemies with judgmental power, rather than words of grace and mercy. “Don’t you realize that I am able right now to call to My Father, and twelve companies—more, if I want them—of fighting angels would be here, battle-ready?” (Matthew 26:53 MSG). But Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NLT). Their intense opposition increased the closer He came to the cross, yet the strength of His mercy matched their hatred. Not that He refused to expose their sin, mercy doesn’t ignore sin. Listen to Him, “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity” (Matthew 23:27 NLT).

Verse 7b: “…for they shall obtain mercy.”

“They forgive, and they are forgiven. They judge charitably, and they shall not be condemned. They help the needy, and they shall be helped in their need. What we are to others, God will be to us. Some have to labor hard with their niggardliness in order to be kind; but the blessing lies not only in doing a merciful act, but in being merciful in disposition. Followers of Jesus must be men of mercy; for they have found mercy, and mercy has found them. As we look for mercy of the Lord in that day, we must show mercy in this day. As you hope for mercy, show mercy.” –Spurgeon

The Greek word for “mercy” is eleeo, meaning, “compassion toward the misery of another, especially that which leads to action on their behalf, not just words.”

“The one who has received mercy will be merciful. The one who has received forgiveness will be forgiving. If you are a merciful person, you give evidence of being God’s child; so every time you sin, God forgives. Every time you have a need, He meets it. He takes care of you. He just pours mercy upon mercy upon mercy to those who show mercy, because they have received it from the merciful God.” –John MacArthur

I close this message with two verses:

Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Deuteronomy 10:12: ““And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

“He has shown you…” rather, “He has told you,” so that you need never ask the question as if you had never heard. “He has shown you…” either by His judgments, each of which is the Lord’s voice, or by his prophets; and whether people hear, or refuse to hear, it is the Lord Himself speaking. All of God’s people are responsible for what he or she understands from the law of God. We are all responsible to walk justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him all the days of our lives. As Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).

Deuteronomy 30:11-14, “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.”

Do you want to walk with God? Jesus tells us how in the Beatitudes! -Jesus here is establishing the heart of Christianity, its value system, ethics, the character of what every follower of Jesus should be.

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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