“Mercy for the Merciful”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Matthew 5.7
Matthew 5. Henry Moore wrote in his biography in 1792, one year after John Wesley’s death, an interesting story about Wesley and a man named General James Oglethorpe. You’ll understand that Oglethorpe’s biographer doesn’t agree as to the accuracy of the story.
General James Oglethorpe was the founder of the colony of Georgia and Wesley and Oglethorpe and others are on their way to Georgia in 1735. Moore writes, [modified] “Mr. Wesley, hearing an unusual noise in the cabin of General Oglethorpe, stepped in, to ask what was the matter, and then the Gen. immediately addressed him, “Mr. Wesley, you must excuse me, I have met with a provocation to great for man to bear. You know, the only wine I drink, is Cyprus wine, as it agrees with me the best of any. I therefore provide myself with several dozens of it, and this villain Grimaldi (his Italian servant, who was present, and almost dead from fear,) has drank nearly all of it. But I will be avenged.
He shall be tied hand and foot, and carried to the man-of-war. (referring to a ship of war which went with them.) The rascal should have taken care how he used me so, for I never forgive.” — Mr. Wesley, looking calmly at him replies … “Then, I hope, sir, you never sin.” The general was quite confounded at the reproof; and, after a pause, putting his hand into his pocket, he took out a bunch of keys which he threw at Grimaldi, saying, “there, villain! Take my keys, and behave better in the future.”
Wesley’s point to Olgethorpe was that since you never forgive, I hope you never sin, because if you do sin, you’ll not find mercy. It’s only the merciful who will find mercy. It’s only those who forgive who will be forgiven. As Jesus says in …
Matthew 5:7 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they [alone is the idea] shall receive mercy.
We’re in Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount. Verse 7 is among the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes pronounce blessing on certain people. You can run your eyes down verses 3-10 and see the word “blessed” at the beginning of each verse. “Blessed” refers to spiritual prosperity from divine favor; spiritual riches because of God’s favorable viewpoint on that individual.
And in Jesus’ sermon, Jesus is evangelizing people. He is attempting to drive them to their knees before God; to get them lost that they may be found. And one way to evangelize them is to tell them what is promised to them.
Verse 3, only those who recognize their poverty of spirit, their absolute bankruptcy before God, and have an attitude of begging… These alone are in the kingdom of heaven.
And those alone who mourn over that condition shall be comforted. And only those who, because they mourn over their spiritual beggary, become meek and controlled by God and will inherit the earth. And only those who, because they are controlled by God, and hunger and thirst for the solution to their sinful condition… Righteousness… They alone will be satisfied with that righteousness.
And this concludes a section in these Beatitudes. It concludes with the person declared righteous in God’s sight. The one who mourns over his sinful condition and seeks to be controlled by God and hungers after righteousness, he alone is the one who is justified before God.
This is a person’s relationship to God. And these characteristics will continue to characterize the citizens of Christ’s kingdom.
But this is not to say that only one’s relationship to God is what gives evidence of regeneration. In the next Beatitudes, Jesus focuses on a person’s relationship to man as giving evidence of salvation. The first Beatitudes are one’s relationship to God. These last Beatitudes focus on one’s relationship to others.
The first Beatitudes focus on justification. The last Beatitudes focus on sanctification, working out the fruit of salvation in the life. Whereas the first Beatitudes are internal conditions for entrance into the kingdom, these last Beatitudes are evidences that one has entered into the kingdom.
And the very first evidence of an entirely new life that Jesus chooses is mercy. Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Here’s the big point this morning then: If God has been merciful to you, you will be merciful to others. Just like with the others, you are not a Christian if you don’t have this quality about you.
Jesus lived in an unmerciful religious era. This is seen in Matthew chapter 12 when Jesus and his disciples are picking heads of grain on the Sabbath day and eating them. The Pharisees accused them of doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath. But Jesus argues from the Scripture that indeed it is lawful, for David became hungry and ate the consecrated bread from the house of God which was only technically lawful for the priest to eat. And he is not condemned. Also, the priests on the Sabbath day work harder than on any other day and they are innocent. Jesus quotes the Scripture, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”
Jesus lived in an unmerciful religious era. And this illustrates a point in passing … It is necessary to exercise mercy even when it seems that exact justice is due; Jesus is contradicting the religious and social climate of the day by highlighting mercy as that quality that characterizes people in God’s kingdom.
Pronouncement: Blessed are the Merciful
Matthew 5:7 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they [alone] shall receive mercy.
EXP: I’d like to point out that …
This statement is not teaching that you can earn mercy from God by being merciful.
ILL: Like a pharisee who gives to the poor thinking God will look down on him with favor because of his mercy to others. A legalist is he who tries to earn favour; and they have no part in God’s kingdom. None of these beatitudes earn you anything; they are pictures of what God is doing in the life. And so it is with the requirement of mercy; it describes the fruit of someone who has been shown mercy.
In other words, you must have the first 4 beatitudes worked into your heart before you can produce the fruit of true holy, God-honouring mercy. It’s not that you show mercy to others and therefore God will show you mercy. No, you are shown mercy by God through beatitudes 1-4 and then you will show mercy to others. And it’s those people who are shown mercy in the future as well.
But this verse is not saying that if you are merciful to others, others will be merciful to you. We all know that there are those who show mercy and treated poorly. Take Christ for example. The most merciful, but never a man was shown no mercy like Him.
This verse is also not teaching that you should simply let people go off scott free with no consequences to their actions.
-Some would say church discipline according to 1 Co. 5 and Matthew 18 is not merciful; but in fact to warn a member of a church and take action on a member who is characteristically not exhibiting the fruit of a Christian is merciful, for through such actions they may be saved on the day of judgment.
Being merciful is not letting people go on with no consequences to their sin or not rebuking them for their sin nor not teaching and disciplining your kids in the Lord.
Furthermore, mercy is not just a feeling. Compassion is the feeling that drives the action of mercy.
But Jesus isn’t describing someone who has an occasional act of mercy. Jesus is describing the quality of a person… blessed are merciful … this is who they are; they live this out in the regular course of their lives.
Blessed are those who are merciful, for on the day of judgment they will be shown mercy. These people have a poverty of spirit, they’ve mourned over that, and so they became gentle or meek … that is, they become controlled by God because they didn’t want to do life their own way. They then begin to hunger and thirst for what they need before God, that is, righteousness. And having received righteousness before God they are shown mercy for their sins. Because they are shown mercy they will be merciful to others. And because of that now, on the day of judgment they will receive mercy.
Mercy in its essence is this: expressing love toward the miserable. Mercy is rescuing those who are miserable.
ILL: We praise God that my wife experienced such mercy over the past couple weeks. The nurses and the doctors and all of you in your prayers and acts of mercy have come alongside us and have assisted us greatly… and I know from God’s word, that it hasn’t been overlooked. Hebrews 6:10 10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.
You saw us in our, as it were .. in our miserable condition and you expressed much mercy by coming alongside to help. You had a sympathy, a compassion…a feeling with us and you acted on it. That illustrates mercy. Mercy feels with people in their misery and then takes the step by acting on it: with prayers, messages and acts of love to help deliver the person out of their misery.
TRANS: Christ also showed mercy physically…
Examples of showing mercy
Rescuing people out of their miserable physical condition
God/Christ did this
In Matthew 9:27, two blind men are following Jesus and they cry out, “have mercy on us, son of David!” And he touches their eyes and their eyes are opened.
Later in Matthew 15:21, a Canaanite woman cries similarly, “have mercy on me, Lord, son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon possessed.” Jesus, recognizing the greatness of her faith, pronounces, “it shall be done for you as you wish.”
In Matthew 17:14, a man approaches Jesus saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and he often falls in the fire and in the water.” Jesus rebuked the demon and the boy was cured.
Again in Matthew 20:30, two blind men hear that Jesus was passing by, cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, son of David!” Jesus touches their eyes and they immediately regain their sight.
Finally in Luke 17:11, 10 leprous men raise their voices to Jesus, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Jesus gives the command and they are cleansed.
In each case, they cry out for mercy, and Jesus rescues them from their physical misery.
We can do this
How would you know if you’re a merciful person? Not just pity, not just a feeling, but an action. Given your ability to help, do you lend a helping hand? Has God shown you mercy by bringing you through the first 4 beatitudes? Well then … how can…
How can you help alleviate people’s distresses? Being merciful takes setting aside your own time, energy, ambitions, in order to help others. Is there someone sick, a shut-in, a senior or someone in physical need you can help regularly?
Are you personally completely out of debt? Are you in a place to give above and beyond what is considered normal giving? Is there a way for you then to help alleviate suffering through giving money? Of course!
Volunteering in different ways in the community not only helps alleviate suffering, but it also helps make connections for Christ that could last an eternity: the food bank, volunteer to drive cancer patients to Edmonton, Santa’s anonymous are all ways to show mercy to people and to meet lost people for Christ.
TRANS: Christ showed mercy physically, so also should we. But primarily in this passage, Christ is referring to showing mercy to people spiritually.
Rescuing people out of the misery of their spiritual condition: When someone has wronged you
For example, what do you do when someone has wronged you? What you do when someone wrongs you is a test as to whether or not you are a Christian.
God/Christ did this
Jesus’ enemies hurt Him with all kinds of hurtful words. In jealousy, they reviled Him and slandered Him. They sought to destroy Him and they mocked Him spit on Him beat Him and whipped Him and finally nailed Him to the cross.
And on that rugged cross He prays… “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus was merciful to the ones causing Him the deepest misery known to man, not only by not retaliating or hiding because He was hurt but even praying for their forgiveness!
We can do this!
And we are to do this as well. In Acts 7, Stephen preaches a hard-hitting sermon toward these Pharisees. And at the end of the chapter, they rushed toward him grabbed him and stone him to death. As he lays there dying… Acts 7:60 says …
Acts 7:60 Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”
Not holding grudges, not seeking revenge, but reconciling when others wrong you or when you wrong others. Whether it’s family relationship between husband and wife, siblings, cousins, church family or friends, lost or saved…you must never hold a grudge and you must always seek reconciliation and forgiveness no matter how bad you might have been hurt. Whether you’ve been hurt or you did the hurting, seek to reconcile.
Luke 17:3–4 3 “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
ILL: To illustrate this, Jesus tells a parable about a King and two slaves. The first slave owed the King… once you work out the math, at least 150,000 years worth of wages. The King was going to sell him and his family. But the slave pleaded saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you for everything.” And the King showed mercy, he was released, and forgiven of all of that debt.
But that forgiven slave went out and found his fellow slave who owed him only a hundred days wages. And he began to choke him demanding, “pay back what you owe.” And this second slave cries out like the first did, “Have patience with me and I will repay you.” But the first slave was unwilling to be merciful to him and threw him into prison.
Well, the other slaves saw what happened. They were so sad they reported it to the authorities. “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. Jesus concludes … 35 “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
TRANS: If you characteristically fail to show mercy in this way to others, you are demonstrating that you have not been shown mercy by God and you are showing that you are not a Christian. But if you do characteristically show mercy to others by forgiving them when they wrong you and reconciling with them, you demonstrate that you are a child of this glorious King of mercy. It is only the people who show mercy who will be shown mercy from God.
If are one who is merciful because … because God has brought you through the first four beatitudes, Jesus’ pledge to you is mercy!
The Pledge: Mercy
Merciful to you in the present
First, let us marvel at God’s mercy to Christians in the present time. Turn over to Ephesians 2. And here will see the richness of God’s mercy.
Ephesians 2:1 “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” Before God led you to be poor in spirit and mourn over that sin and forsake your own life seeking to be controlled by Christ and hungering and thirsting after righteousness and receiving that righteous standing before God … Before that point, you were under the sentence of death. Death because of your sin. Death because of your transgressions. Death because you have grossly offended a holy and righteous God with your flagrant disregard for His word.
Verse 2, “in these sins you formerly walked according to the course of this world according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” Before Christ, you lived according to this life. With all of its fleeting fancies, you were lulled to sleep by Satan’s beautiful calming music, being controlled by the devil of this world who was leading you straight over the cliff into the pit of hell, which by the way, is the lot of most of those people you meet in the world!
And verse 3 you lived in those sins. You lived in the lusts of your flesh indulging the desires of your sin nature and of the mind … at that time you were in your very nature a child of wrath, someone destined for wrath.
Verse 4 But God … But God! He was rich in mercy and because of His great love verse 5 even though you were dead in your transgressions and sins He made you alive together with Christ … And so no longer are you under the death sentence! No more death because of your sin … no more death because of your transgressions… no more death because you have offended a holy and righteous God… But instead LIFE! … He raised you up seated you … even you He seated … think of that He even seated you with Christ in the heavenly places!
Do you know this mercy of God? Is this the theme of your life? Have you been lost yet? Have you been found yet? Do you see when in your life you were dead or do you now know yourself to be living and active toward Christ?
God is rich in mercy! He gives total and complete forgiveness of sin!
TRANS: This is mercy in the present time … But did you notice that Jesus is pledging mercy? There is mercy yet to come in the future!
Merciful to you in the future
Back to Matthew 5:7 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
The LORD shall extend mercy to those who show mercy.
According to Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10, every Christian must appear before what’s called the judgment seat of Christ. At that time, Christians alone will be paid back, as it were, according to what he has done in the body. If you have done God-honouring things, you will receive good for those things. For those things that you have done that are not God-honoring and that are essentially worthless, you will receive nothing.
But for those who show mercy there is great reward ….
Luke 6:38 38 “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 will be measured to you in return.”
Proverbs 19:17 17 One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, And He will repay him for his good deed.
… Jesus said … Matthew 10:42 “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” and He says … Matthew 25:40 … to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
There is mercy coming yet into the future for those who are empowered by God to show mercy today.
TRANS: God has been merciful to many of us here today by rescuing us from the misery of the debt of our sin. And so one of the greatest acts of mercy we can do is sharing the truth of Christ with others that they might hear the good news and repent.
You can do this!
Since Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, He commands His disciples to go therefore and make other disciples from all the nations… how? By baptizing them and teaching them to observe everything that He has commanded.
Seek, therefore, to extend the mercy of God to the lost on the job, in town on errands, and to your children…feel with them and have compassion and sympathy for them knowing of their lost condition and the wrath of God that they are under.
And also …
Give of thy sons to bear the message glorious;
Give of thy wealth to speed them on their way;
Pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious;
And all thou spendest Jesus will repay.
ILL: If you’re ever up on a high place or over looking a vast amount of people…maybe in a building looking down on the busy street, or on a plane looking over the countryside, what do you think about?
Luke 19:41 41 When [Jesus] approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it,
And on another occasion He said…
Matthew 23:37 37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
Are you burdened for souls that they might be shown the mercy you’ve been shown?
The Prescription: press it home
So get motivated to extend the very mercy of God to others, lost or saved.
Being merciful is at the top of Jesus’ evidences of being in the kingdom of heaven. Why? It’s part of the great commandment: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Do to others as you would want them to do to you.
So why should you be merciful?
1. Sinners’ lives are filled with trouble: everywhere there is pain, grief, tragedy; the whole world is horribly lost! Nothing but judgment is coming! The world is a mess and the chaotic news you’re reading and watching everyday is found in microcosm in people’s lives you meet everyday.
2. Being merciful is a test if you know the Lord
In Luke 10:25 a man comes to Jesus asking him what must I do to inherit eternal life? And then Jesus evangelizes him.
Jesus asks him, “What is written in the Law of Moses?” He responds, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, mind and your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus responds with an impossibility, “do this and you will live.”
And the text says, “but wishing to justify himself he said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” And Jesus responds by giving the story of the good Samaritan.
A man is going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and that road is very hot and dry and if that wasn’t enough, he falls among robbers and they strip him and beat him and leave him half dead. A priest comes … surely he would help him … nope … he passed on the other side. A Levite … Surely this time … nope, he also passed on the other side.
But a halfbreed Samaritan (as they were considered by the Jews) he came upon him and there he is and he felt compassion… And he came to him bandaged his wounds and poured oil and wine on them and he put him on his own animal and brought him to a motel and took care of him. And he even paid for the man’s stay in that motel.
Jesus then asked the question, “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell in the robber’s hands?”
The man answers correctly and Jesus yet again says to him, “go and do the same.”
The man you remember was wishing to justify himself, which would never happen before God. But proving yourself to be a neighbor like that is evidence that you have been justified by God.
TRANS: So why should you be merciful? Sinners’ lives are filled with trouble; second, Being merciful is a test if you know the Lord.
3. Because of the promises to the merciful
Not only does Jesus promise future mercy, but Ps. 41:1 promises deliverance for you … Psalm 41:1 1 How blessed is he who considers the helpless; The Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble.
The LORD’s eyesight is not so bad so as not to notice your kindness and mercy to those who need it.
4. And finally, you’ve been saved by God’s mercy, you live because of His mercy, therefore, be merciful to others.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Matthew 5.7
So again … you can alleviate others in their distress. Is there someone in our church who needs physical help?
Be merciful to others when they wrong you. How can you forgive someone who needs it? Are you holding a grudge?
Mercy doesn’t…hold a grudge, retaliate, is not revengeful, it doesn’t flaunt others’ weakness, glory in others’ failures, recites others’ sins over and over in their hearts, doesn’t defile others’ reputation … Mercy reconciles the sinner to God and man and confronts sins, and mercy prays for others…all with an eye to Christ’s pledge for the future…
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”