Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Matthew 5:7
When I was serving a congregation in suburban Los Angeles, California, I led a weekly Bible study on Thursday mornings. Included in this weekly Bible study was a free pancake breakfast. I had a group of guys who showed up every Thursday morning at 6am to make the breakfast and then a larger group of guys who participated in the Bible study.
Part of the group that participated were a couple of guys who lived on the streets. Our breakfast was possibly the only hot meal they would get that day. Judging by the way they ate, it was the only meal they had had for at least a day!
We were happy to be able to provide this meal for them. They stayed for the Bible study and prayed with us.
During the summer months, one of the guys disappeared. But he showed up again, usually in early October. I learned that during the warm, Southern California summers he went up into the mountains and panned for gold.
Since he always came back for the free meal on Thursdays, I presume he wasn’t all that successful at finding gold.
Another gentleman was truly that – a gentle giant. Think of the character John Coffey from the movie The Green Mile. He was quiet and respectful. At one point, he didn’t show up for a couple of weeks in the middle of winter, so I knew he wasn’t up in the mountains (where they measure snow by the feet).
I wondered about him until I received a phone call from apparently a relative of this man telling me he was in the hospital.
I went to visit him and found that he had surgery on his feet, which were adversely affected because of his diabetes.
Our Thursday morning Bible study group prayed for him and helped him the best we could in his recovery.
This is what it means to show mercy. To show compassion. To show pity in the evangelical sense.
When Jesus says that the merciful are blessed, he also says that they will receive mercy.
And even though it says “will receive mercy” at least one Greek scholar says that this future action is also immediate. In other words, as soon as we are merciful, we receive God’s mercy.
We do receive mercy from God because all mercy comes from God!
God, in his grace, saved us from sin even while we were still sinners! Out of this grace, God continues to shower mercy upon us – new every morning!
How can we whom Christ died for not show mercy to others? As John says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:19-21).
While we don’t show mercy in order receive mercy, we are to show mercy because we have been saved by Christ! This is God’s love and this is God’s way.
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