Lent – Day 5 – A Study of Matthew 5
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7
We have no place from which to boast in our perfection without sin, nor a position from which we can judge others for their shortcomings and failures. We have no righteousness that exceeds God’s justice. So then, we are debtors to the Spirit [Romans 8:12] to love and to extend mercy and grace to others in the same measure we need to receive mercy and grace.
Mercy is that quality of human character that compassionately understands the frailty of humanity and instead of demanding a penalty for a transgression or offense we extend mercy, forgiveness and grace knowing that we have been given such great mercy and grace from our Father through the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ while we were yet sinners.
This is the way of love. Not a mushy dismissal of accountability or a flowery irresponsible conveying of license to sin without impunity, but rather an acknowledgment in the face of judgment that God desires mercy more than sacrifice. [Matthew 12:1-8] Our offerings of worship to God are less valued than our extension of mercy to those who seek it from us.
The key in all of this is “those who seek it.” We extend mercy to those who seek it with an acknowledgment of their transgression. God does just wave His hand over every offensive act of violence and wrong without the guilty asking to be forgiven. Salvation though purchased for all it is only granted to those who seek to receive it. There are immutable conditions for God’s for God’s forgiveness and salvation. The merciful are not called to just dole out forgiveness as license to keep on sinning. The merciful obtain mercy because they act in union with God’s mercy. His mercy is available to all who come to Him with a broken and contrite heart.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart— these, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:17
“For the Lord hears the poor, and does not despise His prisoners.” Psalm 69:33
“He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer.” Psalm 102:17
The merciful obtain mercy because they give mercy. The givers receive because they give. [Luke 6:38] Those who do not Judge are not judged because they don’t make themselves judge of others [Luke 6:37]
The message that Jesus taught in these matters is consistent with His admonition to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31
Mercy is a powerful force of life, and God grants it to us liberally, every day. So should we, therefore, be ready to extend that same liberality to those who come to us and seek it. For our part we forgive them even before our offenders seek it, because that frees us from the bondage of unforgiveness, but they cannot receive that mercy and forgiveness until they are willing to acknowledge their wrong and ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Now this does not mean that we walk around with a clipboard checking off the names of those who have sought forgiveness and leaving listed those who have not. No, we leave all that judgment to God. For our part we forgive and extend mercy quickly, freeing us to move on with our lives unencumbered.
The merciful are God’s ambassadors of love and grace. The mercy of God surrounds them always