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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kae

Blessed Are the Merciful

“Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.” His words rang over the quiet mountainside. The Man who spoke them would go on to earn a reputation for His mercy. He would be scorned by society for how very much He would choose to spend His time with the outcasts of society. Eventually, His crazy teachings and His mercy would lead to His death at the hands of the leaders of that society. If the merciful would receive mercy, then why didn’t He?

In some ways, I think this is the most simple “beatitude” of them all. Isn’t it obvious that hard, callous, judgmental people also tend to treat themselves with the same lack of mercy as they treat others? Do people tend to be as merciful to a murderer as they would perhaps be to Mother Teresa?

There was a time in my life when I was so unmerciful that I thought it was funny to be described as unmerciful. I had a pretty hard, cold heart before I met Jesus. He has changed me a lot. So much that I smile softly as I remember someone recently declaring, “Laura is the least judgmental person I know.” I will wear that badge with honor. I needn’t compromise truth to be seen as nonjudgmental. I need only communicate that I do not think I am morally superior to the one to whom I am listening.

What does a lack of judgment have to do with mercy? Perhaps only a little if you are human. Nothing if you are God. His perfect judgment is mercy.

“If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’, you would not have condemned the innocent,” so Jesus told a group of Pharisees who were busy accusing His disciples of breaking the sabbath. Jesus doesn’t desire religion. He desires relationship. The fruit of His Spirit isn’t the ability to keep a lot of God-given or man-made rules; it is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against these things there is no law.

The last of which is a really interesting statement since He promised His followers that they would be persecuted. Apparently, though developing a character like His is against no law, yet laws would find a way to continually put Him to death. Though His followers would become merciful, they would seldom be shown mercy by the cultures which surrounded them.

“Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.”

The question must be “by whom?” because it is certainly not by the merciless. The merciless don’t show mercy on the merciful. Ever. That is, after all, what makes them merciless.

I suppose if I could choose anyone by whom I would want to be shown mercy, I would want to be shown mercy by the Judge of all judges. The one who can overrule every court on Earth.

“Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.”

There is one way to not be shown mercy by one’s Father in heaven: don’t show mercy to others, don’t forgive.

At least that is what Jesus said.

I always think the end of the parable of the unmerciful servant (in Matthew 18) perfectly describes the misery of someone with a bitter, angry heart. “In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

When I am unmerciful, I am also miserable. I don’t receive mercy from God or give it to myself. Generally because I am too busy pointing out the sins of others and declaring why I am better, which is a really ridiculous claim to make.

“Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.”

But He was nailed to a cross.

The tendency of this article to keep pointing this out is reminding me of another statement that Jesus makes in Matthew. “The one who endures to the end will be saved.” The statement isn’t made in reference to withstanding sin or even staying out of addiction or how well we follow Jesus character-wise. It is made in reference to persecution. Jesus repeats it twice in Matthew. On the surface level, it would look like the one who endured persecution to the very end and then was literally physically nailed to a cross or stoned or burned or had their head chopped off was the loser. It would look like they lost everything. No, Jesus said they would be saved.

“Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.” And killed and stoned and crucified. Flogged in synagogues and chased from town to town. Hated by all nations.

But on the other side, they would stand before a throne and mercy would be given to them.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city and His servants will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night….”

Perhaps the promise is not literal but merely literally eternal…

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