“BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL, FOR THEY SHALL OBTAIN MERCY.” -JESUS (MATTHEW 5:7)
THE WAY I RELATE TO PEOPLE DETERMINES THE WAY GOD RELATES TO ME.
It matters to God how you and I treat people. The first four rules for a blessed life as Jesus taught us deal with our attitudes and behaviors toward God. The next four, beginning with this promise, deal with our attitude toward and interaction with people. To live in the promise of a truly blessed life not only must we align our hearts with God, we must also succeed in developing godliness in our relationships to other people. To Christians, this is the place of taking up our cross and following Him! The cross consisted of two large wooden planks, one vertical, and one horizontal. Our cross is the intersection of these twO relational places, with God and with men. Let me repeat: it matters to God how we treat people.
Jesus lived the most successful, spiritual, and Godly life that anyone has ever lived. In this “sermon on the mount” He gave us the same spiritual keys by which He lived so triumphantly. As He embarked on giving instruction about the laws of relationship, He began with the most important relational law, the law of love. Jesus said that, to experience all the blessings of God in our lives, we must allow mercy to govern our behavior toward and relationships with other people. We cannot experience all the promises of a life of blessing without learning to love people. It’s nor enough that we love God, we must also love other people since they are created in the image of God.
Now, if this expectation of merciful behavior proceeded from the mouth of an unmerciful God, we would question the integrity of such a command. Oh, bur it was from the lips of mercy incarnate, the God-man Emmanuel, that we are told to be givers of mercy.
As God reveals Himself to us through the eternal truth of the scriptures there is a clear unveiling of His personal attributes. From Genesis to Revelation, beginning to end, the Word of God declares the mercy of God. Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever! (Ps. 136: 1) Over the next 26 verses of this great Psalm, every stanza ends with the repetition “for His mercy endures forever.” There is a seemingly unending list of His glorious attributes that our God magnificently possesses. Yet He signifies to us repeatedly in the scriptures what He declares to be His controlling, dominant attribute. That governing characteristic is His mercy, His love.
If we don’t accurately understand this truth about not just what God possesses, but even more important, who He is in the depth of His person, we cannot know God. No matter what you’ve been taught and may have come to believe, God is not mad at you or trying to punish you. John 3: 16 reveals God’s intentions for you: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Jesus is the absolute proof of God’s love for us and for the entire world. Love sent Him to us. Love put Him on the cross with grace. Love raised Him up so that our sins would be removed and our lives restored to our Father God.
Psalms 103:8, 10-12 tells us of God’s mercy for us: The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy… He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so for has He removed our transgressions from us.
In the New Testament, this mercy becomes perfected in the personal redemption of Jesus Christ. The river of mercy that flows to God’s people in the Old Testament becomes an unending ocean of love in the New Testament. The waves of His love cascade over our souls as we read:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long;We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
There it is. God has lavished His love on us through His Son Jesus Christ, and no earthly experience has the power to disconnect us from His love. Because we are the undeserving recipients of God’s unconditional love and mercy, there is the expectation that after being deluged with mercy we would then dispense the same to others. This is where we must make this divine connection: because we are so loved, we must then so love. If the mercy given to us does not flow from us, we have aborted its purpose and power. Mercy finds its greatest expression in forgiveness.
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:21-35)
In the paragraph quoted above, we vividly see ourselves in light of our relationship to God. “I forgave you all the debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant as I had pity on you?”
The master was surprised and offended by his servant’s inappropriate behavior, the fact that the servant just didn’t get it. He didn’t connect his own behavior toward others with his master’s mercy to him. Whenever Christians and the church “don’t get it,” much damage is done under the pretense of Christianity that, in reality, is not a representation of the nature of God and His love for mankind.
Here’s what John, the “Apostle of Love,” wrote about the duty of the Christian to express God’s love: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
God is love, if we are born in Him, then we should also exhibit this attribute of our new nature, a nature of love. Jesus said to us, “They shall obtain mercy.” The way that I relate to people determines the way God relates to me. If I sow forgiveness, kindness, mercy and love with people, I will reap the same back from God. Now because I cannot afford to disqualify my life from the mercy of God by expressing wrong attitudes and actions towards people, I become highly motivated to be merciful to others.
Mercy can be seen, felt, and experienced. It is God’s love in action through our actions. We are never more spiritual or Christlike than when we express God’s mercy to others. The world thirsts for such “living waters.”
Prayer for Mercy
Father God, I thank You for Your great love and mercy towards me. I thank you for forgiving all my sin by the precious blood o/Your Son, Jesus Christ. Forgive me for being unloving and unforgiving towards people. Fill me today with Your wonderful love for others. Help me to show them Your love and kindness by my words and actions this very day. Thank You loving Father. In Jesus name, Amen.