The Gospel of Matthew: The Merciful.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7 (ESV)

Therefore, is your brother a sinner? Then cover his sin and pray for him. Do you publish his sins, then truly you are not a child of your merciful Father for otherwise you would be also as he; merciful. It is certainly true that we cannot show as great mercy to our neighbor, as God has to us; but it is the true work of the devil that we do the very opposite of mercy, which is a sure sign that there is not a grain of mercy in us.” — Martin Luther

To be merciful (ἐλεήμων; eleemon) means to show compassion on the poor and lowly. It is to be the attitude and action we have to those who not only are our brothers and sisters in Christ but also for those who are lost in their sins. This is the mercifulness that Jesus Christ displayed toward sinners such as us when He came to this earth.

Hebrews 2:17 says, “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

The cause and effect relationship in this beatitude is that those who show mercy will receive the same. The Lord’s mercy is not a reward that believers earn by showing mercy to others. Rather, those who understand the magnitude of the mercy God has shown them will treat others as their heavenly Father has treated them. (Matt. 6:14-15; James 2:14-26).

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy is a saying which is quite foreign to our normal way of thinking. Where else do we imagine happiness to lie, except in the absence of worry or distress? ‘Leave us alone’, we cry. ‘Let others suffer in silence. We don’t want to know. We don’t wish to be bothered.’ Peace of mind, indifference to anything else — it is enough if we are able to satisfy our physical wants and contemplate all earth’s villainies without feeling sorrow, disquiet, or distress,” explains John Calvin

“That is why many imagine they are blessed when they are at ease, able to live the good life without thinking of what is happening around them. They want only to block their ears so as to shut out news which might affect them. For there are two kinds of emotions which disturb us: unhappiness which arises from personal misfortune, and compassion when we see some poor person suffering beyond measure — someone, perhaps, who is unjustly oppressed, or who has lost all his worldly goods, unhappy orphans without fathers, wives without husbands, or unexpected events which, I repeat, greatly trouble us. Those who are looking for happiness (as they understand the term), seek to escape personal misfortune in the form of injury to themselves or loss of property. They love men’s approval; they revel in entertainment, in laughter, in good fortune; they want flattery and praise.”

“So when we see some who are sick or poor or destitute, and others who are in trouble and distress of body or mind, we should say, ‘This person belongs to the same body as I do.’ And then we should prove by our deeds that we are merciful. We can proclaim our pity for those who suffer time without number; but unless we actually assist them, our claims will be worthless. There are plenty of people who will say, ‘Oh dear! How terrible to be like that poor man!’ Yet they simply brush it all aside, making no attempt to help. Expressions of pity stir no one into action. In short, this world is full of mercy if words are to be believed; in reality it is all pretense. It is the height of insolence to say, Ah me, what a shame!’, when no one is willing to lift a finger or even utter a word in order to help the distressed. We must learn, therefore, first to be kind and compassionate toward those who suffer; and then to make diligent use of the opportunities which God affords,” concludes Calvin.

Soli deo Gloria!

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