INTRODUCTION: A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death. "But I don't ask for justice," the mother explained. "I plead for mercy." "But your son does not deserve mercy," Napoleon replied. "Sir," the woman cried, "It would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for." "Well, then," the emperor said, "I will have mercy." And he spared the woman's son.
This is the essence of mercy. Mercy is compassion on someone based on their need. It is not justice, for mercy extends compassion on others in spite of their deserving it. The Bible tells us that God’s people should extend mercy to others and then be able to receive mercy in turn. What is our Lord teaching us?
I. WHEN UNDERSTOOD PROPERLY, BEING MERCIFUL SHOULD BE A NATURAL PART OF A CHRISTIAN’S LIFE.
A. Consider what Jesus has said.
1. In verse three we see a person who realizes that they are unable to save themselves, that they are wretched and sinful. But this quality alone, without the other beatitudes will not lead one to Christ.
2. But when we add the second beatitude we can see that the spiritual man will not only realize his spiritual poverty, but will also mourn over that sinful condition and desire to have God’s healing of his sin sickness.
3. The meek will gladly be willing to submit their lives to the will of God.
4. This will naturally create this hunger to do the will of the Lord.
B. Because the Christian has sought after God, based on a realization of his own sinfulness and humbly has submitted his life to God-
1. He will not be haughty toward others, but will be willing to extend the same kind mercy toward them that he received from God. Mercy here can be equated with the extension of forgiveness.
II. WHAT IS THE BASIS OF OUR EXTENDING MERCY TOWARD OTHERS?2. This is not a mercifulness that will wink at or condone sin and rebellion against God. Rather, it is the spirit that seeks to extend forgiveness whenever possible. It does not hold a grudge or remember a slight done toward it.
A. A realization of our utter helplessness before God.
1. Isaiah 64:6 - “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
2. Romans 3:9-10 “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:”
3. We are all under sin, we are all lost without God’s mercy, we all need His forgiveness.
4. Ephesians 2:7-9 “That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
5. It is out of gratefulness for what God’s has done to us that we can forgive others.
B. A realization that our continued mercy extended to us by God is contingent on our extending mercy toward others.
1. This is not a grudging “have to” forgiveness of others, but is a willing forgiveness based upon the joy we have in being forgiven.
2. The New Testament is full of passages that show the relationship between our forgiveness of others and our own forgiveness by God.
a. Matthew 6:12, 14-15 - “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors....For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
b. Matthew 18:21-35 Parable of the wicked servant.
c. James 2:13 - “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (NASV).
C. What does mercy imply?
1. It implies that we do not seek revenge on others who have done harm against us. We do not hold a grudge.
a. Romans 12:19 - “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
2. It implies a loving attitude toward those who have transgressed against us and have not sought our forgiveness.
a. Rom 12:20, 21 - “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
3. It implies an eagerness to forgive those who repent and seek forgiveness.
a. Luke 23:34 - “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
b. Acts 7:59,60 - “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
III. THE GREAT BLESSING - “THEY SHALL OBTAIN MERCY”c. Luke 15:20-22 “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:”
A. It is a principle that usually holds true in the life. We reap what we sow.
1. Proverbs 18:24 - “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
2. A person usually “reaps what he sows” in this life as well as eternity. (Galatians 6:7-8).
3. Those who constantly set higher standards for forgiveness toward others than they are willing to hold themselves to will have others extend the same treatment toward them.
B. The merciful will receive the mercy of God on Judgement Day.
1. Matthew 6:14 - “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:”
CONCLUSION: When we show a merciful attitude toward those who have sinned against us, we are merely imitating God. Let us extend mercy toward those who transgress against us.2. When understood in the light of the earlier beatitudes, “Come ye blessed” issued by the Lord to the faithful in Matthew 25:31-46 is not toward those whom have worked and deserved to be saved. It is toward those who have obediently depended upon the mercy of God, and given mercy toward others. They enjoy the blessedness of a Father who has extended mercy toward them.
Copyright 1999 by Grady
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