Blessed Are The Merciful
By Lee Jones
We again come to a seemingly simple teaching in the Beatitudes. And it is simple to a certain degree. The merciful are blessed with more mercy. It appeals to our common sense and to the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated, and it will be shown back to you. Some have even falsely used to this verse to support some form of karma with a Christian veneer. I hope to show here that this simple teaching is not only relevant Christian teaching, but also dovetails with the immediate context.
We can’t do what pleases God while being a sinner and, once we are redeemed, we do good as we are made more in the likeness of Christ.
First, I want to dispel with the notion that this passage supports working to earn mercy from God. We can’t do what pleases God while being a sinner and, once we are redeemed, we do good as we are made more in the likeness of Christ.
A cross-reference that is helpful here is Luke 6:36, “be merciful just as your father is merciful.” Jesus certainly showed mercy such as in Luke 18:35-43 where he healed a blind man after he cried out for mercy “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” That verse is the basis for the liturgical prayer called the Kyrie Eleison as well as the Jesus Prayer that many Christians pray around the world (Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner).
Because the Christian is being made into the image of Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:29) we should look to see mercy reflected in YHWH’s nature. That isn’t too difficult a task, and a simple example is found in 2 Sam. 22:26. “With the kind (or merciful) you show yourself kind. With the blameless, you show yourself blameless.” While God is holy and just, he treats those who have received his mercy with even more mercy.
Another example is a passage where YHWH tells his children to pattern their lives after his attributes, including mercy. Micah 6:8 “ he has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, too love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” These delight God because they are reflective of his nature. Ephesians 2:4 describes God as rich in mercy.
So the evidence is overwhelming that YHWH is a merciful God, so what does that mean to me?
Later in Matthew, in chapter 18:33-35, Jesus teaches about forgiveness in terms of showing mercy to people who owe debts. The man in the parable was forgiven a massive debt to his Lord, a sum of 10,000 talents, but he then choked a man for owing him 100 denarii, a pittance in comparison, So the Lord handed him over to torture until he repaid the original debt. He did not treasure the kindness he was shown, and failed to show the same kindness to others. As Jesus says in Luke 7:47 “for this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Blessed are the merciful, indeed. They have been shown mercy by an omni-merciful God, Thus they show mercy to others as they continue to receive mercy from God.
Glory to God alone.