- Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Mt 5:7
In using the natural affection of pity for our own children, God revealed His pity toward us. When our children sin, at the first sign of repentance we want to comfort and assure them that they are forgiven. So does God! God feels pity as our Father much more perfectly than we can. “For a mere moment I have forsaken you, But with great mercies I will gather you. With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you, Says the lord, your Redeemer” (Isa.54:7-10 - See also the passages at the end of this article).
Among the examples of this mercy being as high as the heavens, is God’s assurance, even before Israel broke God’s covenant and went into captivity that He would not forsake them. “When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the LORD your God and obey His voice ‘for the LORD your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them." (Deut. 4:30-31)
Paul also spoke of the vastness of God’s mercy. As a “blasphemer” “persecutor” and “violent aggressor,” he truly was the “chief of sinners!” He “obtained mercy” “as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1Tim. 1:12-16). Thus Israel’s apostasy and Saul’s laying waste the church reveal that no one can exhaust the mercy of God. His “pity, empathy, and sympathy” are as limitless as “the heavens above the earth” to “those who fear Him!” No matter how evil we become or how far away we stray, God is always willing to build the bridge for us if we seek to return. “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want ... He restores my soul, ... surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (Ps 23:6).
Although God’s mercy is limitless, Jesus worded this passage so we would conclude that the mercy we show others will enhance or decrease the mercy we will obtain from God. This is the first of three times in this sermon that Jesus taught the conditional nature of mercy, forgiveness and judgment. The manner we give them to others will impact what we receive from God.
In our prayers for forgiveness we are told to verbalize this link when we say: “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” We are never to forget that God will forgive us exactly the same way and to the same degree (as) we forgive others. To remove all doubt, Jesus concluded: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Later, Jesus gave the parable of the forgiven servant who refused to forgive. “Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?” Once again Jesus made the application: “So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart” (Mt.6:12-15; 18:23-35).
In our judgment of others, we are also warned: “in the way you judge, you will be judged,” (Mt. 7:1). Thus in the way we measure our mercy, forgiveness and judgment to others, “by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Jesus also said: “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. ...For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." (Lk. 6:36-38) Summing all this into one verse: “judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (Jas. 2:12-13)
The more mercy we give the more mercy we will receive! If we measure out harsh judgment, refuse to forgive, and show no mercy to those seeking it, this is how God will measure it back to us when we stand before Him. If we measure out compassion and understanding instead of harsh judgment, showing great mercy and forgiveness to others in their need, then this is how God will deal with us. The passage is an incentive. We are blessed if we show mercy for we will obtain mercy. We are cursed if we do not show mercy for it will decrease God’s mercy.
Conclusion. What an amazing and wonderful opportunity! Just as we can “lay up treasures in heaven” by sacrificing our possessions, we can also store up for ourselves mercy in heaven by being merciful. As a dimmer switch controls the brightness of a bulb, our mercy controls the power of God’s mercy toward us. “With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; 26 With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. For You will save the humble people, But will bring down haughty looks.” (Ps. 18:25-27).
"The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty," (Ex. 34:6-7)
"Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments." (Deut. 7:9)
"Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old. 7 Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord. (Ps. 25:6-7)
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever." (Ps. 23:6)
"All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies. 11 For Your name’s sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great." (Ps. 25:10-11)
"Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. 6 Your righteousness is like the great mountains; Your judgments are a great deep; O Lord, You preserve man and beast." (Ps. 36:5-7)
"Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin." (Ps. 51:1-2)
"Arise for our help, And redeem us for Your mercies’ sake. God be merciful to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us," (Ps. 67:1)
“For a mere moment I have forsaken you, But with great mercies I will gather you. 8 With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”Says the Lord, your Redeemer. 9 “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, So have I sworn That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. 10 For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”Says the Lord, who has mercy on you." (Isa. 54:7-10)
"Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy. 19 He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea. 20 You will give truth to Jacob And mercy to Abraham, Which You have sworn to our fathers From days of old." (Mic. 7:18-20)
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, w ith faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life." (1Tim. 1:12-16)