Matthew 5:7 - Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Through this devotional glimpse of the Beatitudes over the past few weeks, we have seen Jesus define the very Nature of God. If Christ were a politician, one might say that the Beatitudes we have discussed and the ones remaining are his political platform, of sorts. Quite literally, these define the Man and where He stands on the Nature of God versus the fallen nature of man. Using another political metaphor, one might say that the Beatitudes are Christ's "Declaration of Independence" from the world and His utter dependence on the Father. In the remainder of chapter five and the entirety of chapters six and seven, Jesus explains the particulars or the out-workings of this "declaration" in the Sermon on the Mount. If the Beatitudes are Christ's Declaration of Independence from the world, then His Sermon on the Mount is truly the Constitution and the "Bill of [no] Rights" toward the believer. Christ tells us in this manifesto of Divine living that we really have no rights to our own way if we choose to follow Him, bearing our respective crosses through this life. (Ironically, though we may be dying daily (I Corinthians 15:31) and living as aliens on this earth, we are heirs of the eternal kingdom where we will one day live and reign.)
In our previous look at the Beatitudes, we have seen the opposite or a juxtaposition of the affects produced by the respective effects of blessedness in a believer's life. For instance, to be "poor in spirit" or to possess a spirit of poverty toward the lusts of this world produces a richness in heaven. Or, by mourning over sin and for the blessed appearing of our Savior, one will therefore be comforted. Unlike its predecessors, this particular character attribute of the Divine Nature is valued both by those on earth and in heaven, by both the unregenerate and the redeemed. By its value, mercy's blessing is different than those of other beatitudes. As a person sows mercy, that is what they will also reap. In other words, rather than an opposite creating an opposite as in previous instances, Jesus is describing a facet of Godly nature that creates more of the same. Jesus tells us that the act of showing mercy will beget more mercy for the giver. More than that, He tells us that if we nurture the character of mercy where we become known as merciful human beings, than our lives will continue to reap mercy as a constant inflow and outflow of our lives. This is very much in tune with the law of reciprocity in all areas of giving. If one sows sparingly, then one will reap sparingly. If one sows abundantly, one will reap an abundance. If we show acts of mercy on occasion with randomness, then the mercy we are able to receive from God and man will be occasional and random. However, if we live lives of mercy toward others and are by nature merciful people, mercy from both God and man will flow into our lives like a torrent. So, how does one initially come to a true understanding along with a true desire to live as a merciful person toward all? Mercy, as we shall see, has a critical counterpart that fuels its proverbial engine.
Christian philosopher and writer C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying: Mercy, detached from justice, grows unmerciful. In order for there to be a manifestation of God's mercy in the spirit of a man or woman, there must first be a recognition of God's righteousness and the justice due as the penalty of sin. The ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies of the Hebraic tabernacle gives us a word picture of the requirements to receive God's mercy. First of all, one must recognize God's righteousness and the penitent's lack thereof as typified by one of two cherubs overarching the Mercy Seat as it reached out toward its counterpart. This cherub is named Righteousness. Secondly, one must understand that a holy, righteous God cannot excuse sin but He must judge it. For Him to do otherwise would nullify His holy and just Nature. Hence, the name of the other cherub -- Justice. The great undoing of this dilemma for humankind is that in which the cherubim overshadow -- that glorious Mercy Seat -- a foreshadowing of the heavenly article where Christ offered up His blood to the Father once and for all as the propitiation for all sin for all time. In ancient Israel, God "passed over" the sins of His people once a year by the sprinkling of the blood of the Passover lamb during the Feast of Passover. Jesus Christ became the Eternal Lamb that once and for all gave His blood to obtain eternal mercy for humanity on that heavenly Seat of Mercy in the tabernacle not made with hands (Hebrews 9:11-12). By the death of Christ, mercy became something that did not need renewing year after year. It became a transferable, definable characteristic of God the Father through His son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It was now part of the very nature of God given to every born again believer -- the ability to live a merciful life with power toward others.
Through the typology of the ark of the covenant, God has graciously given us the secret or an equation, if you will, to first receive and then to be people of mercy. In John 16:8, Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes that He would "... convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment". Beloved, if we have known the Spirit's convicting power in our hearts regarding our sin ... if we have seen His righteousness and how our "filthy rag" righteousness (Isaiah 64:6) cannot compare with that of a holy God ... and if we TRULY understand that we all deserve judgment, then those elements will produce a cry for mercy that only a merciful God can give.
Jesus said that "... those who have been forgiven much, love much" (Luke 7:47). According to the scripture, one might rightly judge those who claim to be Christians yet lack love and forgiveness toward others. Have they truly met the Risen Lord if they lack mercy toward their fellow man? As the heart of a man, woman, or child is convicted or convinced by the Holy Spirit of its need for salvation, and one accepts God into their lives, the Nature of the Divine One ultimately acts and reacts with the same mercy toward others as it did toward this penitent soul. If the Divine mercy is not at work in a so-called believer, perhaps they did not believe at all. Mercy will beget mercy, just as love will produce love. We can only give mercy away when we have first TRULY received it. Once we begin this purposeful adventure, the Lord will continue to enlarge our hearts until we see and further embrace the workings of His will toward His greatest desire -- broken lives that are transformed into glorious sons and daughters of His kingdom!
Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy. Thank you that Jesus, Your Son, presented His blood once and for all that we might obtain eternal mercy. Help us to give and to keep giving Your mercy to others for it can never be exhausted. For as we give, we receive. We praise You. In Jesus Name, Amen!
Your Barefoot Servant,