Why did Jesus say ...

Blessed are the Merciful

Leslie A. Turvey: Jesus taught his disciples saying, "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7).

My favorite dictionary defines mercy a, "compassionate or kindly forbearance toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power." It also gives, as a synonym, forgiveness. Peter asked Jesus, "How open shall my brother sin against me. and I forgive him? Seven times?" Peter seemed to think there was a limit to mercy. But Jesus showed him otherwise when he said, "Seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:21).

Immediately after Peter's come-uppance Jesus told of a king who took account of his servants. One owed him nine million dollars, but could not immediately repay it. The king commanded that his possessions be sold, and he and his family be sold as slaves to recoup some of the debt. The servant fell down, and worshipped him, saying, "Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything." Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and freed him, and forgave him the debt.

Hard Hearts

But the servant found another servant who owed him fifteen dollars. and demanded payment. And his fellow-servant fell down at his feet, and begged him. saying, "Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything." The servant, however. had no mercy, and imprisoned the man until the debt was paid.

Of course, word got back to the king, and the first servant was called on the carpet. The king said. "You wicked servant, I forgave you nine million dollars because you asked me. Shouldn't you have also had compassion on your fellow-servant, even as I had pity on you?" The king was furious, and delivered his servant to the tormentors till he should pay all that was due unto him. Jesus ended his parable by saying. "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also to you, if you don't forgive everyone their trespasses tom your hearts (Matthew 18:23-35)".

God of Mercy

Jesus told of two other men, one who was so good in his own estimation, that he felt no need of God's mercy. The other prayed from his innermost being, "God be merciful to me, a sinner (Luke 18:10-13)." Here was a man who knew he deserved God's wrath, yet dared to ask for mercy. Jesus said he went home ,justified - made right with God; acquitted.

God is a merciful God, as we see from David's prayer, "With the merciful you will show yourself merciful, and with the upright man you will show yourself upright" (2 Samuel 22:26).

David also wrote. "The lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy... As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear [respect; honour] him" (Psalm 103:8, 11). His son, Solomon, advises, "He that despises his neighbor sins: but he that has mercy on the poor, happy is he" (Proverbs 14:21).

Many people, today, suffer from suicidal depression when they don't have to. Anne Landers notes, "Forgiveness is more for the forgiver than for the forgiven."

Depressed people need to look deeply inside themselves to see if there is anything they haven't forgiven, anyone on whom they haven't had mercy. Until they go to the person and truly forgive him, the lack of mercy will be like a hag fish which burrows into the belly of its prey, and sucks the life out of it from the inside.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy, said Jesus. Let's do it - and be happy for it.

To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.

For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Issue 25, January/February 2001. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.

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