Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
The law of sowing and reaping is often quoted in reference to bad behaviors and the end result of a sinful life. However, it also refers to the sowing and reaping of good things. True, you can sow unhappiness and reap a lifetime of it for yourself. But, by the same token, you can sow happiness and ultimately reap happiness in your own life.
This beatitude that promises mercy for mercy reflects that law in the best of terms. If you and I can learn to practice mercy toward others, we will, when it is needed in our own lives, find that mercy is granted to us. Long ago, dealing with a particular situation involving a couple of church families, I heard a pastor say, “If I am going to make a mistake with an individual, I would rather err on the side of mercy than ever on the side of judgement.” He has lived that – and lived to reap that. We cannot expect to set ourselves up to harshly judge others and expect, when our time comes, to receive great mercy from those same individuals in our own situations.
Mercy is a Christ-like characteristic. Mercy says, “I will treat her better than she deserves.” Mercy walks hand-in-hand with forgiveness – and so does offering aid and assistance to someone we have no obligation to help.
Mercy and love were the driving force of the incarnation of Jesus Christ – His death, burial, and resurrection. He came to save us – to forgive us – to redeem us – driven by one force – His love for us.
William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible commentary on Matthew states regarding this word:
“It does not mean only to sympathize with a person in the popular sense of the term; it does not mean simply to feel sorry for some in trouble. Chesedh, mercy, means the ability to get right inside the other person’s skin until we can see things with his eyes, think things with his mind, and feel things with his feelings.
Clearly this is much more than an emotional wave of pity; clearly this demands a quite deliberate effort of the mind and of the will. It denotes a sympathy which is not given, as it were, from outside, but which comes from a deliberate identification with the other person, until we see things as he sees them, and feel things as he feels them. This is sympathy in the literal sense of the word. Sympathy is derived from two Greek words, syn which means together with, and paschein which means to experience or to suffer. Sympathy means experiencing things together with the other person, literally going through what he is going through. (p. 103)”
Mercy is not an easy thing to practice. In the day in which we live, it seems much easier to focus on our own journey than to put ourselves into someone else’s shoes. Yet, mercy at its finest, doesn’t just say, “I know where you are…” it says, “Let me walk with you.”
The result of showing mercy – extending mercy in every possible situation – is that we will, ourselves in our own lives, at the point of our own need for it – will find mercy extended to us.
“Blessed are the merciful . . .for they shall obtain mercy.”