What a Christian is: Part 7
We’ve spent the past several devotions looking at how Jesus teaches us to repent. As it is the only right way to respond to Jesus, it’s an important subject. Our lives depend on getting repentance right.
But, the Beatitudes (Matt 5:3–12) are more than just a roadmap of our first response to Jesus. They’re also a picture of walking with him. You can think about it like this:
Beatitudes 1–4……. Rightly responding to Jesus
Beatitudes 5–8……. Rightly walking with Jesus.
After he explains how to repent, Jesus continues to describe people who are walking with him. In Matt 5:7 he says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” What is “Mercy” though? The Puritan writer, Thomas Watson, says, “Mercy is a melting disposition whereby we lay to heart the miseries of others and are ready on all occasions to be instrumental for their good.”
What do most of us think about when Jesus talks about receiving mercy? Probably, conversion. We think about God showing mercy to forgive… But, to focus there is to actually miss the context. Jesus is talking about someone who has already gone through the steps of repentance, someone who has Seen his sin, Sorrowed over his sin, Submitted to the Lord, and Sought his righteousness. In this verse, Jesus is saying THAT person will be merciful and will receive (more!) mercy.
It makes sense that someone who recognizes the magnitude of mercy he has received (i.e., Matt 5:3–6) will also be transformed by it. It also makes sense that the suffering Jesus underwent to save him will affect the way he sees the world (especially other people who need mercy). Now, evil people aren’t “stupid” or “bad” or “people to avoid”… they are victims of Satan’s lies. Shouldn’t our hearts break when we see their misery and slavery? Our hearts should go out to them as we remember the mercy we have been shown when we were where they are. They are not to be hated, but pitied. All of their misery would have been our misery had we not been shown mercy. After all, who is to say that it could not have been them who was shown mercy and not you?
Receiving mercy must transform the way we look at the world. If we don’t feel merciful or show mercy, that suggests that we have not experienced mercy. God’s mercy always transforms.
But, if they have already been shown mercy then why does Jesus promise to show more mercy to the merciful? Think of the mercy of God as water in a river. There’s already a channel connecting you to that water, but the more you show mercy to others, the bigger and deeper that channel gets and the more mercy flows to you. In other words, God loves seeing godliness in his own children and he responds to it by showing still more mercy. The more mercy we show, the more ongoing mercy we’re promised. God’s mercy isn’t something that is given once when we’re saved and then ceases forever. Rather, God’s mercy is a daily outpouring of compassion upon his children.