So far we have seen Jesus say some shocking and countercultural things. But this one is often one of the hardest for us to live out. It requires us to give up our right to be right and give what is undeserved. But Jesus says that this is the only way to the good life.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Matthew 5:7
We often have a double standard when it comes to mercy. On one hand we like to have mercy and grace given to us when we fail. But we like to see others get what they deserve. We want to see it given in abundance to us, but rarely do we celebrate when someone else receives it. Grace seems unfair until you need some.
In this statement Jesus is challenging our mindset towards grace. He is saying that we will receive mercy (grace) when we give mercy. Some might say that Jesus is saying to give to others what they deserve. However, really what Jesus is saying is to give to others what they don’t deserve. When we show mercy the person receiving it does not deserve the mercy we are showing. But we cannot forget that we do not deserve the mercy that God shows us. Grace is getting what you need, not what you deserve.
Later on in Matthew Jesus elaborates his point by telling this parable: “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:23-35
Many people hold on tightly to wrongs that have been done against them. Listen, they are justified in doing so, they were wronged. However, by holding onto those wrongdoings they are letting go of God’s mercy. You cannot hold onto both.What do you want? God’s mercy that leads to peace and freedom, or do you want to be merciless that leads to bitterness and angry? It’s your choice, but Jesus says you cannot have both.
The reason a Christian can show mercy when it’s not deserved is because they recognize that they first received a gift they did not deserve. We can love because we were first loved. We can forgive because we were first forgiven. We can show undeserved mercy because we were first shown undeserved mercy.
Jesus is teaching us that the good life comes to those that offer what is undeserved, mercy. The good life will not come to those that hang onto past grievances. It will not come to those that are stingy with their grace. The good life belongs to those that give the undeserved gift of grace because they were give an underserved gift of grace.
Read the previous article in the Series: Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst
Read the next article in the Series: Blessed are the Pure in Heart