Continued from Part Four…
After talking with His disciples about hungering and thirsting for righteousness, Jesus went on to say:
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Verse 7
Like with many of the teachings of Jesus, the way He has taught His followers to live seems totally backward to our way of thinking. Merciful people in today’s world are not viewed as the most wise, and they generally aren’t the most wealthy. The world would teach us that we should seize for ourselves anything and everything possible because everyone else is doing the same and if we don’t grab for ourselves, we will go without and we have only ourselves to blame.
Here in Matthew 5:7, Jesus tells His followers to have compassion on others even if it means sharing a portion of what meager means they themselves have to survive on. Jesus urges His disciples not only to bear their own afflictions patiently, but help others with the burdens they are carrying. The love that God offers goes beyond the love we as normal humans would offer. The Apostle Paul said this in 1 Corinthians:
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:9
The question is often asked: “How do I live the life of God?” It is impossible! It is totally impossible for a human being to live the life that God would have us live, a life up to His standards! Yet, we find words like these in Ephesians 5:
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Ephesians 5:1-2
One could think that the Scriptures are contradicting themselves, but, of course, they do not. There is only one way this works. The original language that the New Testament was written in gives us this meaning for the two English words “fellow workers” used in the 1 Corinthians 3:9 passage. The original meaning is : “to act together, to work with, to move together, or to do as one.” This is the key. It is impossible for you and I to live the life of God. But, it is also impossible for God not to live the life of God. So, the key is not to live up to the standards of God, but to let God live out His life through us. It means to let God live, love, and move in our living, loving, and moving.
Be strong in the power of His might! Ephesians 6:10
Now, to get back to the attitude of being “merciful”…For most people it is not a natural thing to have pity on another human being. Yet, observe what we find in the Old Testament Book of Job:
To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend. Job 6:14
In the New Testament letters we find the Apostle Paul saying it this way:
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another…Colossians 3:12
…fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:2-4
And the Apostle John was inspired by the Spirit to leave us this instruction:
But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers, and above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen
The Scriptures give us additional directives which include showing pity for the ignorant by instructing them, to the careless by warning them, and to those who are living in sin by snatching them right out of the fire. Additionally, instead of avoiding those who are depressed or melancholy, we are to have compassion on them by comforting them. If a person comes to us lacking food or clothing, we should not turn the other way.
There are countless stories that have been told throughout church history of the love the true disciples of Christ have shared with the destitute around them. This is going on today as well. For the true followers of Jesus, this is not the extraordinary, but rather the norm. It is done as a demonstration of God’s love. And, as we see again and again, this always opens the door to share the good news about how God showed His love for mankind by taking sin upon Himself upon the cross of Calvary. Here is what we find in the Scriptures:
If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? James 2:15-16
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18
If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul. Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. Isaiah 58:10
The promise in Matthew 5:7 is that the merciful person will be blessed, or happy. How? It is in our representation of God as His ambassadors to this world. As God is merciful, we are merciful, and as God is perfect, we, in our own measure, are perfect. One of our delights in this world should be doing good. The Scriptures describe Jesus as going about doing good wherever He went. In a world where people, for the most part, only care for themselves, this is an unusual way to live. God’s ways are higher than ours but as we walk in unity with Him through the leading of His Spirit, our ways will also always be higher than what is typical in this world. An example of this is found in Acts 20:35:
I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Another reason the merciful person will be especially blessed or happy is because God will also be merciful with him. The same applies to forgiveness.
He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and He will pay back what he has given. Proverbs 19:17
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14
The Bible teaches very clearly that all men will stand before God who is the Judge of the whole earth. Regardless of the fact that it is not our righteous works that saves us and earns us entry into the Kingdom of God, everything concerning this short sojourn on this planet and our part in it is being recorded. It is only the Blood of Jesus that can save a man from sin and it is the free gift of forgiveness through this most priceless Blood that assures us eternal life. What we do with our life after we have become part of the family of God however is recorded in a heavenly record book called the “Book of Remembrance.” It is God that changes us and we are given a new heart and a will to walk in His ways. This is how the world around us is reached with the wonderful news of God’s salvation through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In a later chapter of the Book of Matthew we find how Jesus will judge men according to how they responded to His call in regard to the needy.
All nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to Me. Matthew 24: 32-36
One last Scripture that I would like to reference before moving on with this study on the beatitudes is a passage in 2 Timothy. The Apostle Paul was referring to a friend named Onesiphorus who came to him at times of great need while he was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel.
The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day–and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus. 2 Timothy 1:16-18
All of our actions as believers have consequences. God makes the very most of every act of kindness that is done in the name of the Lord. Nothing is wasted and nothing done in the name of Jesus is ever done in vain. We, the believers and followers of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, are privileged to be living in the final generation prior to the physical return of Jesus to set up His Kingdom. He will literally and physically rule as KING of the entire planet. Whatever time is left between now and when we, the “Bride of Christ” are called home to be joined with Him, is time that is gifted to us to touch one more soul; then another soul, and another…until the last one has been reached that brings the Days of the Gentiles to a close. Soon and very soon, we are going to see the KING…!
To Be Continued in Part Six…