“Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them!” Matthew 5:7 *MEMORY VERSE
Have you noticed that the stock market continues to plunge up and down? We have learned firsthand that in this life there is no sure investment.
Except for one thing. The investment in Mercy
There is classic commercial about an investment firm called E. F. Hutton. In this commercial, you see a room full of people sitting around, chatting. In one corner, there is a conversation going on and someone says, “My broker is E. F. Hutton and he says. . .” At that point, the whole room becomes quiet and everybody leans forward and strains to hear what E. F. Hutton said. When EF Hutton talks…
As we look at this scripture, everyone sitting around is straining to hear what Jesus is saying. And as we listen, we hear Jesus gives the best investment advice in the world. He is telling us to invest in Mercy.
If you are a good investor, you have learned that before you invest in something, you must learn everything you can about it, so you can invest with realistic knowledge and expectations of what kind of return you will get.
So what is Mercy? Mercy is:
This beatitude raises three practical questions:
What is mercy?
How can I become merciful?
What can I expect as a result?
- What is mercy?
The word mercy is used some 250 times in the Old Testament.
- “Mercy is one of the most important words in Old Testament theology and ethics” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words
- Mercy was more important to God than the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. (It meant to treat people right – the heart of the law)
“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6
“What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
The Hebrew word for mercy is “Checed” which means to get inside someone’s skin, to look at where they view life and feel what they are experiencing; to move in and act on behalf of the one whose hurting. That is exactly what Jesus did when He chose to leave the comfort and glory of Heaven to become one of us.
Millions of people were gathered before the Throne of God. Some of the groups near the front talked heatedly and were belligerent. “How can God judge us, they asked?” God is in heaven where all is beauty and light, what does He know about suffering snapped a cynical woman. As she stood she rolled back her sleeve revealing a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. We were tortured, humiliated, torn from loved ones, until only death gave release. What about this said an angry black man, Lynched for no other reason other than being black. We were enslaved, beaten, wrenched from loved ones, only death gave us freedom. Across the plain there were thousands who had similar complaints against God for the suffering they experienced on earth. So they decided to form a committee, each person was selected from their groups because they suffered the most. The committee met in the middle of the plain, they decided that before God could judge them he had to live on earth as a man. They set certain safeguards so that in times of trouble He could not use his divine power to escape. Each got up to pronounce their portion of the sentence.
1. Let him be born a Jew
2. Let him be born into poverty. To know hunger & thirst.
- Let him grow up under a tyrannical government.
- Let him champion a cause so great that people will call him mad or lunatic
5. Let him be betrayed by one of his closest friends, let him be abandoned at his greatest time of need by all he loved
6. Let him be condemned by the religious leaders
7. Let him be sentenced to die
8. Let him be humiliated and tortured
9. Let him die like a common criminal
- Let his name live on forever that in moments of rage men would use it as a common curse word.
As each pronounced their portion of the sentence loud murmurs of approval came from the crowd. When the last pronounced his sentence no one made a sound, no one dared to move. When the last pronounced his sentence they all knew, God had already served the sentence.
I use this illustration because it clearly tells us what MERCY is. It is seeing with the eyes of others, feeling with their feelings, thinking with their thoughts, fully understanding what they are experiencing.
- Mercy is more than a feeling.
“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” James 2:15-16
To be merciful is far more than to shed tears. Of course, those who are merciful sometimes weep. Jesus certainly did not restrain his tears as Martha and Mary grieved over their brother’ death. Another time he looked at the city of Jerusalem and wept over it. Jesus did far more than weep he gave his life for whom he wept. It is easy for some to shed tears that are meaningless and unproductive. This is emotion without motion and this is not mercy.
- Mercy is more than an act of charity.
. MERCY isn’t: 1. Pretending to have a heart of care and compassion. 2. It is not Self-Seeking – It is not showing kindness only when you think something’s in it for you. (Like a politician) 3. It is not Self-Righteous – like the Pharisees who thought they were getting brownie points from God by giving to the poor. The heart matters, the intent matters too.
“If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” I Corinthians 13: 3
- Mercy takes action.
Mercy is Compassion in Action.” It is doing something with the feelings you have for someone. It is one thing to feel mercy and a step further to show it to others. Those who are merciful dare to help lighten the load of another. Mercy is action. If we have an attitude of mercy, we will perform deeds of mercy.
When springtime arrives it cannot be kept a secret. It expresses itself through blooming flowers and singing birds. (Asthma & Allergies too!!) And when the springtime of mercy is in our heats, it makes itself known in a multitude of ways.
A young boy was sent to the corner store by his mother to buy a loaf of bread. He was gone much longer than it should have taken him. When he finally returned, his mother asked, “Where have you been? I’ve been worried sick about you.”
“Well,” he answered, “there was a little boy with a broken bike who was crying. So I stopped to help him.”
“I didn’t know you knew anything about fixing bikes,” his mother said.
“I don’t,” he replied. “I just stayed there and cried with him.”
“Biblical usage of ‘Mercy’ frequently speaks of someone “doing,” “showing,” or “keeping.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words
- Mercy – Gr – eleos (def.) kindness or help to those who are hurting or needy.
Charles Swindoll – 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 someone
in trouble. It means the ability to get right inside the other person’s skin.
Clearly this is much more than an emotional wave of pity; this demands a
deliberate effort of the mind & of the will. It denotes a sympathy which is not
given, as it were, from the outside, but which comes from a deliberate
identification with the other person, until we see things as he sees them, &
feel things as he feels them.
In the next post we’ll look at “How I can become Merciful”.