Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy

In Jesus’ critically acclaimed Sermon on the Mount, He shared eight beatitudes or blessings.

FAITH & REFLECTION — In Jesus’ critically acclaimed Sermon on the Mount, He shared eight beatitudes or blessings. The fifth beatitude addresses mercy. Matthew 5:7, employing the same cause-and-effect construction as the other beatitudes says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

It is important to understand mercy, because life will present us with opportunities to dispense it and situations where we will need it!

I define mercy as pity with marching boots on. Pity motivates and mercy moves; pity engages emotion…mercy involves action. Language expert W.E. Vine, defines mercy as “the outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of the person receiving it, and implies resources to meet that need on the part of the person showing it.”

Jesus shared the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25 37. Second only to the mercy that God shows mankind, this account provides a remarkable example of mercy. The few minutes it would take you to read it would be time well spent.

The dispensing of mercy requires discernment and therefore does not necessitate the provision of everything for everyone at the moment of their request. Giving money to someone who has proven to be financially inept may be more naïve than merciful. Helping that same individual, with care and respect, to build a balanced budget would be more merciful.

There is an account involving Calvin Coolidge revealing his merciful character. The story did not become public knowledge until years after his death, indicating that he was discreet as well as merciful.

Coolidge, early one morning, discovered a burglar going through his hotel room looking for valuables. He quietly asked the burglar to leave his watch chain, because it was very special to him. He calmly engaged the thief in conversation and discovered that the culprit was a college student who had no money to buy a bus ticket to get back to school.

Coolidge, out of bed now, retrieved his wallet and gave the student $32 saying, “I want you to consider this to be a personal loan.” He then advised the young man to leave in exactly the way that he had come, so that he could avoid being arrested by the Secret Service.

He could have easily and rightfully called for help and this young student would have done some hard time for trying to rob the President of the United States. But Coolidge exercised mercy instead. Some might say that the young man should have been arrested. Perhaps…but the account goes on to say that the young man did pay back the loan.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).