PC-USA  1997-05-23 - Blessed are the Merciful

The Sermon on the Mount Series, Part 5

Mat 5:7 (NIV) Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

I have noticed that these days, there seems to be a shortage of mercy in the world. It is easy to point fingers at others -- unwed pregnant mothers, alcoholics, people whom we deem incompetent in their work. But we all have weaknesses. We all have faults. The old cliche is true: There but for the grace of God, go I. And after all, that is why Jesus died for us -- because we ALL have need of His grace. We all sin, literally "falling short of the mark."

Mat 9:12-13 (NIV) On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

And besides, some of our own sins, like pride, are just as bad in God's eyes.

Prov 6:16-19 (NIV) There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Let's examine our everyday reactions. Be it our own family or friends, supermarket clerks, people who cut us off in traffic, whomever -- our instinct seems often to be, to "let 'em have it," to strike back. Lawsuits seem to be the national pastime.

Christ's counsel to us, is to be compassionate. And would we want the tables turned? Would we want someone holding us responsible for every mistake, showing us no slack? Naturally there is a balance needed -- we need to hold people responsible for their actions -- for their own good. But we need to stop before we react, and think how we would like to be treated under the same circumstances. And in fact, God takes into account our mercy or lack:

James 2:13 (NIV) because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

Dear Lord, please help us to be merciful to others, as You have been to us. Help us to remember to treat others like we ourselves would hope to be treated. In Jesus' name amen.