Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
In the first four Beatitudes, there is a definitive progression for spiritual renewal and real life transformation. This was clearly one of the intended purposes of Jesus’ teaching that day on the shore of Galilee.
First, there is a discovery of the fact that I am nothing, have nothing, and can do nothing—poverty of spirit.
Second, there is conviction of sin, a consciousness of guilt producing godly sorrow—mourning.
Third, there is a renouncing of self-dependence and a taking of my place in the dust before God—meekness/humility.
Fourth, there follows an intense longing after Christ and His salvation—hungering and thirsting after righteousness.
In the context of modern cultures feelings-first feelings-based behavioral process the progression of Jesus’ first four Beatitudes sends out an accountability - responsibility - “clean out your closet” vibe that is mistakenly interpreted by the “feelings are my reality” mindset with negativity. That is a wrong interpretation of Jesus teaching, and is a great distance from His intended meaning. His calling is for the hearer to acknowledge what is broken within our mind, emotion, and character and use it to build the desire and yearning for that which is desirable and blessed - honesty, contrite, humble, and righteous.
The shift is noticeable in the next four Beatitudes as we are introduced to the manifestation of goodness and righteousness in the believer for follower of Christ - the fruits of a new creation and the blessings of a conformed and transformed character. This reminds us, once more, the importance of noting the priority and order in which God’s truth is presented and subsequently revealed to us.
“Blessed are the Merciful - for They Will Obtain Mercy."
This text has been perverted by recognition affirmation seekers - those who insist on interpreting the Bible as a self-serving salvation by works process. That interpretation of Matthew 5:7 is an error and those who live in its neediness need to be told so. Nothing could be further from the truth or more opposite His intended meaning and purpose. The purpose of Jesus was not to establish a faulty foundation upon which the sinner’s hope of mercy from God can find rest, but rather it was to reveal and shine light on the character of His genuine disciples. Let’s take a look and see.
Mercifulness is a virtuous character, not a virtue signal. According to Jesus teaching, mercy is essential to modeling (conforming) and living (transforming) the righteous and holy character to which God has inseparably connected the enjoyment of His own sovereign kindness. So, there is nothing whatever in this verse that supports or interprets Merciful or Mercy as a works-based signal for merit system religions and denominations.
The biblical context of “Blessed are the merciful” holds one of several keys to its interpretation and intended meaning. In the preceding verse, verse 6, the soul is seen hungering and thirsting after Christ, and then being continually filled by Him. Here in verse 7, we are shown the first evidence and outcomes of this filling. Having been shown and given mercy of the Lord God, the new creation in Christnow shows and shares that same mercy to others. Before you go there, it is not that God requires us to BE merciful in order that we become entitled to His mercy, for that would overthrow the whole plan and purpose of the righteousness of God.
Let’s clarify - there is no entitlement here in this beatitude message.
We are not entitled to anything - we are graciously and mercifully given everything.
It interprets and concludes like this:
But having freely received His unimaginable mercy, I cannot respond in any other way but act and re-act mercifully toward others.
What is Mercifulness?
[Greek]; οἰκτίρμων (e-lee-mon): pertaining to showing mercy or compassion; kindness and empathy—in a number of languages expressions involving showing mercy or being merciful are expressed in highly idiomatic ways, for example, ‘to show one’s heart toward,’ ‘to feel in one’s stomach for,’ ‘to have one’s heart go out toward,’ or ‘to treat as a loving child.’
[Hebrew]; רַחוּם (rǎ-ḥûm): compassionate, merciful, favorable, i.e., pertaining to showing favor, and not punishment as is often deserved, implying a forgiving relationship.
Within the overall structural context of the Sermon on the Mount teaching of Jesus, we can define merciful rightly. Jesus spent most of the day redefining the heart condition and character template for the Righteousness God and His Kingdom. The idea or virtue of being merciful had become nearly obsolete within the dogmatic religious practices and the socio-racial prejudices.
[English] modern; (merciful): the kind and loving attitude and action toward my neighbor, my brother, and my sister, as a serving and sharing part of the Christian community.
It is a kindness and giving that frequently senses and discerns the miseries and struggles of others - courageously and faithfully doing something about it.
It is a spirit that regards with compassion the sufferings of the afflicted.
It is a gracious leniency towards an offender and to scorn the taking of revenge.
It is a forgiving spirit; it is a non-retaliating spirit; it is a spirit that surrenders all self-vindication and would not return an injury for an injury, but rather returns good in the place of evil and love in the place of hatred.
That is merciful.
“Mercy being received by the forgiven and nurtured soul, the soul that has learned to value and appreciate the beauty of mercy, and yearns to exercise toward other offenders similar grace to that which is exercised towards one’s self.” – Dr. A. T. Pierson
The source of this merciful mind and heart is not to be attributed to anything in the fallen flesh of our human nature. It is true that there are some who do not profess or confess to being Christian or being a person of faith yet we often see attitudes and acts of kindness, sympathy for the suffering, and a readiness to forgive those who have wronged them. Honorable as this may be, from a purely human perception, it falls far below that mercifulness on which Christ proclaimed His blessing and favor. The amiability of the flesh has no spiritual (eternal) value - its movements are not navigated by a Scriptural compass nor implemented with any reference or acknowledgement to the goodness of God. The mercifulness of this fifth Beatitude is that spontaneous organic outflow of a heart that is captivated by, and in love with, the mercy of God.
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