Sunday, March 26, 2017

Beatitude: The Merciful

Beatitude: Blessed are the merciful
Beatitude means being in a state if utmost bliss, according to the Meriam-Webster Dictionary. Well here is a list of utmost blissfulness from Jesus's Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5  (ESV)

The Beatitudes:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Today's beatitude is on the merciful.

Let us first look at the blessing: they shall receive mercy. There is a distinction between mercy and grace. Mercy is showing compassion for someone when one has the ability and authority to harm. Grace is giving assistance to someone who doesn't deserve it. Therefore, mercy is unconditional love and grace is bestowing that love.
Romans 3:23 (KJV) "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God..."
John 3:16 (KJV) "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
All have sinned in the first verse is the world and whosoever in the second verse.  Let's rewrite the second passage:
For God so loved all who have sinned, that he gave his only begotten Son, that all who have sinned and believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
By applying all who have sinned to John 3:16 is mercy. God has compassion for whosoever who deserves punishment. His grace is the reason: for God so loved the world.

Thus far we have seen the pre-conditions for God bestowing mercy: Those who believeth in him. It appears that God loves everybody enough to be merciful. That is his grace. However, the qualifier for mercy is belief. The transliteration belief came from the Greek pisteuo which is to say faith. Hence, belief is more than believing, it is trusting Jesus. That belief is accepting God's gift of grace.

That is God's mercy. The beatitude says, blessed are the merciful. In order to receive God's mercy, those to be blessed must show the same mercy.

When we sin against God, he is merciful. He loves us even in our sin. His love is not based on conditions. That much is his grace. When sinners repent, he accepts the penance, and pardons all our sins. Even though we all have wronged him, he forgives, forgets, and remains friends as he still loves us. He continues to commune with us daily even though we sin against him. He even tolerates more sin after he forgives. He could condemn us, but he is merciful and pardons.

Everyone sins against God (Romans 3:23). Trespassing is sinning.
Matthew 6:14 (KJV) "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
In essence, this passage says: God is merciful with you; then you be merciful with others. His mercy is contingent upon your mercy. It is God doing unto you as you would do unto others, or the Golden Rule between you and God.

It's easy to be merciful to those who are closest to you, but how about those enemies? Just as sinners are God's enemies, those who trespass against us are our enemies - We hold the trespass over their heads. Being merciful unto them is loving them just the same - just as they are. It's loving them enough to grant them the same mercy that God grants us. It is forgiving, forgetting and being friends. It is continuing on in love as if they never trespassed.

Many say: I'll forgive, but I'll never forget! That is unmerciful. We are to be merciful as God is merciful. Forgiving and holding the trespass over one's head is not true forgiveness because it is not merciful. Ironically, the one who fails to forget (hold against) the trespass of others have a trespass which is not forgotten of God! We are to love our enemies.
Matthew 5:44 (KJV) "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you..."
Christians don't even love their friends, let alone their enemies. I have had some who harbored a grudge for years against me. I'm sure you have too! Years ago one Christian friend was even brazen enough to say, I'll forgive you, but won't be your friend. I'll just treat you cordially.  What if Jesus showed that kind of mercy? It wouldn't be merciful at all! Mere cordiality is a confession of hate, and an unmerciful act.

Since mercy is a beatitude which is utmost bliss and can only be received in Glory, then it seems that those who are not merciful are in danger of hell fire. Hate cannot exist in heaven, and hell is the place of haters. The atmosphere in heaven is love. Haters can't breath love because it is not their atmosphere.

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