“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
INTRODUCTION: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MERCY AND GRACE?
The previous beatitudes have to do with our attitude or relationship towards God. The beatitudes that follow have to do with our actions towards others resulting from our right attitudes towards God.
Mercy is compassion towards others who are in a miserable state. Grace, on the other hand, is generosity to the undeserving. Grace views the unworthiness of the recipient. Mercy views the misery of the recipient. Grace has to do with cleansing the guilt of the person. Mercy has to do with alleviating the miserable condition of the person.
I. WHAT IS MERCY?
- Mercy is a characteristic of God (Exo. 34:6; Ps. 103:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:3).
- Mercy is a characteristic of God’s children, of those who are truly saved (Luke 6:36; 1 John 3:17; Col. 3:12-15; Matt. 25:34-40). Like father, like son.
- The unmerciful show that they don’t really belong to God. They were never saved in the first place (Matt. 25:41-46; Jas. 2:13)
II. WHAT DOES “THEY SHALL OBTAIN MERCY” MEAN?
- We obtain mercy when by showing mercy to others we do good to our own souls (Prov. 11:17; Prov. 14:21)
- We obtain mercy when as a result of our being merciful, others in response show mercy to us (Matt. 7:12)
- Finally we obtain mercy from God.
a) Initially, we receive mercy on the day we are saved (1 Tim. 1:15-16; Titus 3:3-4). It is on the basis of this INITIAL MERCY that we become merciful to others (1 John 4:19; Col. 3:13).
b) We also receive TEMPORAL MERCIES (Ps. 18:25; Prov. 19:17).
c) Then there is FINAL MERCY (Matt. 25:34-40).
On judgment day, God will reveal who are those who are truly saved by faith, and the genuineness of their faith (by which alone they are saved) will be proven by the fruits of love, obedience, mercy, etc. that characterize their lives.
We must interpret Matt. 5:7 in a manner consistent with grace; otherwise, no one will find mercy on judgment day, since none of us has been as merciful as we ought in order to deserve mercy.
To be clear, we never earn God’s mercy, but our being merciful is an indication that we are those whom he has saved and transformed by grace and that we are therefore those to whom he will confirm his mercy on judgment day (Matt. 7:20)
III. HOW DO WE SHOW MERCY?
We show mercy to people’s souls (Mark 6:34), to people’s bodies (Matt. 25:), and to people who have been caught in transgression (Gal 6:1,2).