Blessed Are the Merciful


Chris Hansen examines why loving mercy as well as loving our neighbors is vitally linked.

Mercy is a very difficult thing to give to another person because it truly is something you are giving up for that person. Mercy means taking a judgment that is rightfully yours and saying you don’t want to invoke that judgment.

In the Bible we are told in several places that we should practice mercy. Luke chapter 6, verse 36 Jesus tells us to, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” I know this is good teaching and that I should take it deep into my heart, but I have a hard time comparing anything I do to God, so being just as my Father is in anything immediately makes me nervous.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us that, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7) This I can relate to easier as there is a cause and effect. I do something and I get something. I’m not saying that I’m good at it, but I can accept this teaching easier than comparing myself to God.

My favorite scripture as it relates to mercy and how we as people are to live is Micah, chapter 6, verse 8: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” I love this scripture for a lot of reasons. First, it starts off with the source of the information we’re going to get, “He.”  He. He is the Big He, Numero Uno, the Big Cahuna, God Almighty. If this verse would have started off with Bill or George or Sue, the rest of the statement wouldn’t have had the weight as it now has.

Second, “He has showed you.” Showed me. It’s not some abstract thought or concept where you have to do some third dimensional modeling to kind of get the idea, this is something that was demonstrated. Both of my parents were life long educators and my mom used to travel around the school district giving tests to kids. As far as I know, they were all written or verbal tests, no electrical shock or surgery involved (not like the tests my sister gave us). But sometimes she would try her tests out on us at home. One test in particular was designed to help you understand how you learn. I won’t get all the terms right, but basically some people learn by seeing, some by hearing, and some by touching. She took eight or ten tiles with numbers on them, had us look at them for 30 seconds, then she would cover them up and we had to recreate the number sequence. Next, she would have the same numbers then read them to us so we couldn’t see them but hear the sequence, then we would have to recreate it. The last section we didn’t get to see the numbers but got to feel them with our hands, and then recreate them. Again, the object was to identify what type of learner you are so that you can adjust your classroom setting to best fit your learning style.

This section of the Bible makes me think of the visual learner who can best understand by seeing an example, and God does it, “He has showed you.”

The third thing I really like about this scripture is the “O man.” I like this because it’s cool that the “O” doesn’t have an h behind it, and because I like to read this with different inflections on the O man part. Like, “O man!” Or, “O! man.” Or, “O….man…” You get the idea…

Now we get to the really good part of this scripture, the requirements, what do we have to do to pass. The question is right there for us to see and understand and get to the answer, “What does the Lord require of you?” Do you ever think of that question? What does God want from me? Here’s the question and the answer, “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Three things.

To act justly…this goes to how you interact with other people. Do you speak the truth? Do you live up to your commitments? Do you follow the rules? Our God is an awesome God, full of compassion and grace, but He does want us to lead a disciplined life. For two reasons, I think. First, by being disciplined in financial, relational, and societal matters our lives are easier. He certainly loves us when we over spend, mess up with our spouses and get a speeding ticket, but He and we are spared the pain of going through the consequences of these actions. The second reason I believe He wants us to act justly is that we represent Him. When we say that we are Christians we are saying that we are followers of Christ so when the world looks at us they should be seeing Him. If we are consistently acting in ways that are unjust, what does this say about who we represent?

To love mercy…this goes to how you interact with people as well, but why would they require mercy? Why does anyone ever require mercy? Because they did something wrong to us. Isn’t it always easier to expect to receive mercy than to give it? Mercy, or lack thereof, comes into play a lot while driving along the highways and byways of our lovely city. One time I was feeling particularly holy while driving home and this lady cut me off on the highway. And not just a little bit either, she TOTALLY CUT ME OFF! But, like I said, I was feeling pretty good so I didn’t flash my lights, or yell anything, or give her the one finger solute, I just  let it go. Well, a few miles up the road she was exiting and so I naturally pulled up beside her as she was leaving the road, and guess what? She flipped me off! She flipped ME off! She stole my flip off! While I was totally holy and calm and fine before, now I was mad! She took the punishment that was mine to give as is written in the Constitution of the United States and she delivered it to me!

To walk humbly with your God…this goes to how you interact with God. This shouldn’t be difficult because if we even have a little idea of who God is and who we are we should be humble. But maybe that’s the thing, that if we’re not walking humbly we’re not walking with God. If we’re proud and full of ourselves how can we be full of God?

These three conditions in Micah make me think of what Jesus said when He was asked what the most important commandment is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 'The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. 'There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31). Let’s start with the second commandment Jesus lists, “love your neighbor as yourself.” How do you demonstrate your love for your neighbor? By acting justly, by following the rules, by not letting your dog poop in his yard, by showing mercy. This showing mercy to someone else is the essence of loving your neighbor as yourself.

No matter how bad we are, or no matter how bad we can feel about ourselves, we always get back to the point of loving ourselves by giving ourselves mercy from the guilt we feel. We do that internally because we have to. If we are honest with ourselves we know that we are really pretty unlovely, and yet at the same times we really love ourselves a lot. Doesn’t that kind of sound like God’s love for us? He knows our ugliness, our faults, our failures, and yet He really loves us. So I believe that loving mercy and loving our neighbors as ourselves are vitally linked; that the way we love our neighbors as ourselves is by loving and showing mercy.

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