Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.
A lady had just had her portrait painted. At the unveiling, she said to the artist, I don’t believe this portrait does me justice. He said, “Lady, you don’t need justice, you need mercy.”
If I were to ask you which you preferred: justice or mercy, always take mercy.
Justice is giving us what we deserve.
Mercy is not giving us what we deserve.
Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve.
All three are involved in the saving activity of God: Justice, Mercy and Grace.
· Justice declares us guilty, exposing our need.
· Mercy extends His favor, holding back His justice.
· Grace makes us aware of the response that opens us to the relationship we need to become Children of God.
If God acted only from justice – giving us what we deserve – we would never be saved. So He must extend mercy. In that moment His mercy holds His justice back. While justice is held back, we become aware of His presence. We can sense His favor, know His love, realize what Jesus did for us. We recognize our need and understand we can call out to Him. When we do, His grace gives us what we cannot give ourselves—forgiveness, acceptance and righteous standing before Him. And the whole process began with mercy.
Peter: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Pet 1:3)
Paul: He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5)
Then: By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; (Eph 2:8)
How do you repay such a gift? First of all, you can’t. If you have to pay someone for something they gave you, what they gave wasn’t a gift. To try to do so will insult their generosity. Second, though you can’t repay it, you can show your gratitude by paying mercy forward.
Pay it forward is an expression describing having received something of value from someone else and repaying them by giving something of like value to another person. Responding to a person's kindness by being kind to someone else. To show appreciation for their generosity by being generous.
So how do you pay Mercy forward? How do you not give others what they deserve? That’s the Golden Rule: treat others as you want them to treat you. No, it is to treat them as we have been treated by God.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36) Not, since He was merciful you be merciful, too, in some unmeasurable ought or should, but as – with the same intensity, effort and intention.
Old word for mercy is forbearance. Refraining from doing something or acting in a way reflective of, or in response to, what someone else has done. It requires patient endurance and self-control. It is abstaining from the enforcement of a right. Often associated with some obligation we believe they owe.
They have done something you consider wrong, an offense, and instead of coming back against them, though that seems right, you don’t.
It’s what God did for us: in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; (Rom 3:25)
Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Rom 2:4)
God’s forbearance defines that time between His mercy holding back His justice while He waited for the moment we would accept His grace.
It was the period of time the Prodigal son’s father sat on the porch waiting for His son to come home.
It was the silent time while Jesus wrote on the ground, waiting for the accusers of the woman caught in adultery to drop their stones and leave her alone.
Within our forbearance, we are withholding justice, waiting for God to do a special work within the heart of the person to whom we are extending mercy. It could be buying us time to forgive them.
Why did Jesus ask the Father to forgive the men who crucified Him? How would forgiving them of this one act make any difference to a whole life of paganism? He said Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing. What was He asking for? Mercy, forbearance. Hold back the justice due them. What happened?
The centurion, within that moment when the Father pulled back Justice, had his eyes opened to understand who Jesus was. He announced, professed, truly this is the Son of God. Which makes this the first salvation in response to Jesus’ death on the cross.
Old definition of Mercy was the power to act according to discretion, for the public good, without the prescription of the Law, and sometimes even against it.
It is the freedom to decide what is best in a particular situation. And in that moment on the cross, instead of the right of retribution, Jesus asked for mercy. Forgiveness was what the centurion needed, not justice.
We don’t give mercy because we’re soft, tenderhearted and want no one to suffer, but because mercy is the best way to approach their offense.
The normal equation: Their action = this reaction.
Mercy doesn’t change their actions, it changes our reaction to them. Why? Because He did that for us. For while we were sinners, Jesus died for us.
Get mercy – Show mercy. Want mercy – Give mercy.
He expects us to dispense mercy. Not sympathy or empathy or even feeling sorry for someone. We give mercy because that’s what’s best.
It’s hard for those with a justice mentality to extend mercy. When they do show mercy it’s with a somber reluctance: "I wish I could pound you into the ground but, I’m supposed to show you mercy."
Like Job’s friends: When Job was going through all of his trials and his friends came to comfort him, rather than showing mercy to help lift him up from his misery, they show him where he went wrong. That’s justice mentality. He called them sorry comforters.
Like Jonah: When Jonah had preached damnation to Nineveh and they repented, God gave them mercy instead of the promised judgment. Jonah had a meltdown.
They deserved justice! They don’t deserve mercy just because they repented.” God simply said, “I know.”
In A Knights Tale: The Jouster, William, didn’t run through a wounded competitor. Man asks, “Why didn’t he finish him off?” Lady says, “He shows mercy.” Man, “Then he shows his weakness.”
Mercy requires more strength than justice. Mercy is the power to exercise controlled discretion to do what is best. Mercy has the power to hold justice back.
When we give mercy we are helping lift someone up, pointing them back to God, not pressing them down. If you every fall, you do not want someone to remind you why you fell, you want someone with mercy to come help pick you up.
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness [meekness]; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:1-2)
Instead of the impulse of judgment:
I choose not to be angry with you.
I choose not to turn away from you.
I choose not to ignore you.
I choose not to reject you.
I choose not to point out your ignorance, your sin, your wrong to condemn you.
I don’t want to kick you out but to restore you.
I don’t want to hold you down but lift you up.
I don’t want to remind you of your past but show you your future.
This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (Lam 3:21-23) I know that is true because I have experienced that mercy. Therefore: I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever; to all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth. (Ps 89:1)
Making known the faithfulness of God is showing mercy to others and encouraging them to trust Him, be restored by Him and follow Him. It is dispensing mercy.
Oh the blessedness of the merciful – [but Jesus goes on to add] for they shall receive mercy.
Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. [How?] Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it [mercy] will be measured to you in return. (Luke 6:35-38)
God returns to us the mercy we give away. Withholding mercy limits God’s mercy toward us. Give none, get none. Give much, get much in return.
For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)
Thomas A. Edison had a team of 24 men working 24 straight hours to put together one lightbulb. When they were finished, Edison gave it to a young boy helper who nervously carried it up the stairs. With each step his nervousness increased, obviously afraid he might drop such a priceless piece of work. And, of course, at the top of the stairs, he dropped the lightbulb, shattering it. It took the same team of men another 24 hours to make another bulb. Justice demanded Edison not give it to the same young boy to carry it upstairs. Edison chose mercy. Why? You don’t give up on someone just because they failed. This is coming from a man who failed 1000 times discovering how to make a lightbulb in the first place. Want mercy? Give mercy.
Oh the blessedness of we who have experienced God’s mercy because we can show others the same mercy God has shown us. In doing so, God will keep us full, renewing His mercy within us to cover our mistakes as well.
1. Knowing we deserved justice, God extended us mercy in order to ultimately show us His love and draw us into salvation.
2. Having accepted that salvation, mercy continually keeps us free from condemnation.
3. In response to Him being merciful to us, we are to be merciful to others, so they may be able to see the goodness of God and respond to His goodness for them.
4. By paying it forward, we bless God and them while God blesses us.