Each Tuesday at 6:00 am, we gather the men in our church together to study the passage of scripture we will be studying on Sunday. When we were in the Beatitudes, we considered, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy.” Here are some of the thoughts that arose from our discussion:
When Jesus spoke of the blessings upon the heads of the merciful, he was not speaking of a secularized, psychologized, feminized type of mercy. He was speaking of the kind of mercy God has. Our thinking is fuzzy and even polluted when we think of mercy. This is why it is so important, in our day to develop an explicitly biblical doctrine of mercy – what it is and what it is not. There is a critical need for clarifying the doctrine of mercy. For example, the mercies of God include things like, Justice, Righteousness, and Punishment.
Also, mercy looks at suffering and desires to see it be relieved. Therefore, mercy does something about the suffering. It does not just sit there idly by and let it happen. It cares enough to take action with tangible remedies.
Here is what Tommy Vestal wrote reflecting on our conversation. He is making the point that, Mercy presupposes sin – and deals with it.
This concept of mercy begins with an assumption of an underlying condition that there is sin and unrighteousness present. For mercy to be present requires sin. Along with mercy comes the idea of forgiveness, but the two are not the same. Forgiveness recognizes wrong doing and forgets it. Forgiveness puts sin away without accountability or recompense. Mercy recognizes wrong doing, holds it accountable and contends with it with perseverance and endurance; love and long-suffering. The difference from forgiveness is the added elements of continually contending with a condition, to hold one accountable to God’s standard; not wavering on the standard, but flexing with ones inability to keep it. The application of mercy may include actual punishment and it may also not include punishment, but warn of its inevitability. Mercy can therefore be displayed from subordinate to superior, child to parent, citizen to civil magistrate etc. This ultimately leads one to an inevitable discussion that since we cannot keep the law and need mercy, the law of God is driving us to the knowledge of our need for a savior and the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ.
The character trait mercy can only then therefore be displayed by he who has been called into repentance by faith and saved by grace with the revelation and knowledge of his own sin by the conviction of the law of God. Mercy can only truly be shown then by one who is truly poor in spirit, that knows the futility of his own actions against the measure of the moral law of God and sees his own condition as helpless without a savior to fulfill it.
In short, mercy is shown by loving your neighbor as yourself, for no man ever hated his own flesh.
How then do those who are merciful obtain mercy? By the grace of God and not of any work within themselves given by the mercy of God. How then does a Christian show mercy? By doing so without conditions as mercy was first shown to us by God and in whom His mercy and grace gave birth to faith and faith unto salvation.”
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