Blessed: a study of the beatitudes: Blessed are the merciful
Mercy is more than an attitude, it’s a lifestyle. Webster’s Dictionary defines mercy in two ways: First, mercy is “refraining from harm or punishment”; and second, mercy is “unexpected kindness”. So there are two sides to mercy. There’s the forgiving side and the compassionate side. The forgiving side is refraining from punishment and the compassionate side is going the extra mile to help somebody with unexpected kindness.
Something to talk about:
- Be patient with people’s quirks: Their idiosyncrasies. Their peculiarities. Their mannerisms. Their odd behavior. Their irritating habits. You show mercy when you don’t get irritated, angry, or uptight with people’s personal quirks. And we’ve all got them. Two imperfect people cannot make a perfect marriage. You have faults, your spouse has faults and a great marriage is the union of two great forgivers. The first place you need to learn to show mercy is at home. Why? Because you see each other’s faults far more than anybody else does. You’re up close and personal with those faults and you’ve got to live with them for the rest of your life.
- Help the hurting: There are hurting people all around you but too often we’re too busy to notice it. If you care, you’ll be aware. Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan to teach this very point about helping the hurting around us is the meaning of mercy. A man is going down the road to Jericho and he’s robbed and left for dead at the side of the road. Three guys pass by him and two of them do nothing. The third guy of another ethnicity and culture, stops and helps him, nurses him back to health, put him on his donkey, takes him to a motel, checks in and pays the bill for the guy, and agrees to come back and pay any other expenses incurred during the man’s stay. Jesus pointed out that our neighbor is the one who is hurting, regardless of how different they may be than us. You cannot love your neighbor as yourself without being merciful.
- Give people a second chance: The Bible is full of people who got a second chance. God is the God of second chances—and hundredth and thousandth chances. The Bible says in Ephesians, chapter 4: 31-32 (CEV): “Don’t get bitter or angry or use harsh words that hurt each other. Don’t yell at one another or curse or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.” Just look at Facebook and you’ll see how merciless people typically are in the way they speak to each other.
- Do good to those who hurt you: Mercy is giving people what they need, not what they deserve. That’s what God does with you. God gives you what you need not what you deserve. Hurt people hurt people. The people who you want to love the least are those who need it the most. The most hurtful people are those who need massive doses of love and mercy.
- Be kind to those who offend me: You have probably noticed that verbal attacks on Christians are going up in our society. How should we respond? In-kind? No, we are to be kind to those who are offensive. Followers of Jesus must decide whether they want to win the argument or win people to Christ. You don’t get across your point by being cross. You’ve got to be more interested in winning them to Christ than in winning an argument.
- Build bridges to the unpopular: There are people in your circle, people who live on your street that nobody wants to hang out with. People who you work with that everybody tell jokes behind their backs. They may have those quirks. Or they may have a different lifestyle. Or they may have a different belief system or they may have a different religion or they may dress differently because of their culture. But they’re not in the in-crowd. They’re not popular. They’re the outcasts. Building a bridge of love to the unpopular is premeditated mercy. Why does God want us to build bridges of love to the unpopular and specifically to unbelievers? Because you cannot win your enemies to Christ. You can only win your friends.
- Value relationships over rules: You must value relationships over rules. If you’re a rule keeper that just grates all the wrong ways. Particularly if you’re in the HR Department and you have policies and procedures. Jesus would say to put people before policies. Put people’s needs before procedures. Put relationships before rules and regulations. He would say choose love over law. This week do something risky. Value relationships over riles and commit an act(s) of premeditated mercy. Be patient with people’s quirks. Give people a second chance. Who is an unbeliever you can invite to church?
- After hearing this week’s sermon, how would you describe “mercy” in your own words?
- What is the difference between grace and mercy?
- Which is more difficult for you: to show mercy to an enemy or to show mercy to someone in your family? Why?
- What can you do to show mercy to the unpopular people in your life”
- God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5.7). How are the merciful blessed? What does this look like? Have you experienced this? When?
- Do you think mercy is valued in our culture? Why or why not? Do you think the world sometimes confuses “mercy” with “tolerance?”
- What are the ways in the home we can show more mercy, love, and kindness? Is there something we can stop doing? Do more of? Improve?
- In what practical ways can we better reflect God’s mercy this week?
- What part of the message resonated with you? What would you do differently this week as a result of this week’s sermon?
Take one thing home with you:
“God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
It seems pretty intuitive. Those who have received mercy are those who will show mercy. And only those who show mercy will continue to receive it. Showing others mercy isn’t just sentimentality or softness. It’s a service to others. Jesus doesn’t merely save us from something, He saves us for something. He wants to express His life through us as we serve others. Once I receive Christ into my heart, then His life, His love, His compassion, His gentleness, and His mercy, will flow through me to others.
Make mercy your “default” position. Try to understand others first through the eyes of mercy. Instead of judging people for their faults and failings, recognize them as people in need of mercy.