Sermon on the Mount Part 3
Today, we will take a look at what it means to give mercy to others and to give them slack when they needed and when they don’t.
Matthew 5:7-11 – Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
When we were together last time we started to look at the Beatitudes. In our discussion we concluded following:
- While the word “blessed” is translated “happy” a more adequate translation of the word might be “satisfied.”
- The Beatitudes turned the political and social ideas of being “happy and successful” upside down.
- The Beatitudes are not a legalistic checklist of dos and don’ts but rather are symbolic of what the attitudes that should be possessed by those who are passionate followers of Christ.
- We looked briefly at:
- Blessed are the poor spirit
- Blessed are those who mourn
- Blessed are the meek
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
Today, will look specifically at the merciful and the pure in heart:
Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.
1. To receive Mercy means that we do not get what we deserve. It means to show kindness or concern for someone in serious need or to one who does not have the ability to repay. When we receive God’s mercy the fact is that we do not get what we deserve. We deserve death for our sin but God chose instead to forgive the penalty of sin and sets us free from that penalty. Instead of death we receive eternal because of the sacrifice of God’s Son.
2. The Hebrew meaning of mercy is to walk in another’s shoes. This idea deepens the meaning of the word mercy by challenging us to get into the heart of another individual so that we are able to walk in their shoes so that we see things from their perspective. Our goal must be to look at things from the other person’s perspective because when we do so we will most often see things differently. The result is less judgment and more mercy.
In the world’s view of life the merciful will be taken advantage of and will become doormats but in God’s economy of Kingdom living the opposite is true. One who manifests a worldly outlook will say things like: “I don’t get mad, I get even.” “You will get your reward.” In James 2:13, James reminds us that mercy triumphs over judgment. So it is always better to lean on the side of mercy than it is on the side of judgment.
Mercy works hand-in-hand with forgiveness. One who walks in forgiveness in their heart is the one who can best show mercy to those who do not deserve it.
Paul in Romans 3:22-24 highlighted this point in this way. God treats everyone alike. He accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins.
3. When we show mercy to others we are walking in Christ’s image and in His likeness. This beatitude brings with it a promise that those who show mercy will receive mercy. The caution here is that we do not show mercy just because we get mercy but we show mercy because it is the right thing to do because it honors God.
Let me summarize this beatitude up this way. Instead of giving people what they deserve we must show them mercy. We give people some slack. When they say things that upset us give them slack. When they hurt us we don’t attack back.
To whom have you shown mercy to lately? One night in 1935, Fiorello H. La Guardia, mayor of New York, showed up at a night court in the poorest ward of the city. He dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench. One case involved an elderly woman who was caught stealing bread to feed her grandchildren. La Guardia said, “I’ve got to punish you. Ten dollars or ten days in jail.” As he spoke, he threw $10 into his hat. He then fined everyone in the courtroom 50 cents for living in a city “where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat.” The hat was passed around, and the woman left the courtroom with her fine paid and an additional $47.50.
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
1. A pure heart speaks of one’s motivation for serving God. In this regard, we are reminded that this is critical because while man looks at the outward appearance but God looks on the heart. Purity here equates to one’s character.
2. Character is how we live when no one else is around. This action is in opposition to the Pharisees who measured everything by one’s outward appearance rather than the heart.
Mother Theresa said that each one of us should keep a pure heart for that is the only way to see God in others.
Jesus in Matthew 15:18 reminds us that what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. The heart controls what one does and therefore when the heart is right our actions and our motives will be right as well.
3. When our hearts are filled with malice and impure thoughts we will never see others as God sees them. The word pure speaks to the idea that ones heart is not to be contaminated with evil affections or motivations that do not bring glory to God.
Paul summed up this idea in Philippians 4:8 when he said finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.