The Divine Atmosphere of Mercy

Bible Book: Matthew  5 : 7
Subject: Beatitudes; Mercy; Judging Others; Sermon on the Mount
Series: The Beatitudes - The Divine Atmosphere

The Divine Atmosphere of Mercy

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

This is sermon 5 is a series of 8 sermons on the Beatitudes.

Matthew 5:7

A gentleman picked up the wrong umbrella one day in a hotel lobby and was about to walk out when the owner of the umbrella pointed out the mistake. The would be thief apologized. He found his own umbrella and left the hotel. The incident, however, reminded him that he had promised to buy his wife and daughter a new umbrella so he proceeded to a store where he found them on sale and bought two new umbrellas. He left the store with the two new umbrellas and his old one in hand, when he happened to see the man he had encountered earlier in the day. As the man saw the three umbrellas in the possession of the man who had almost taken his umbrella from the lobby of the hotel, he said, "I see you had a good day after all!" Although the man with the three umbrellas had done nothing wrong, he was judged guilty of being an umbrella thief.

How often we are guilty of judging others falsely, or of having them judge us the same way. Today, we going to look at the subject of the mercy we have received and the mercy we are to give as we look at the fifth Beatitude in our series.

Today we look at the Beatitude which comes directly out of the preceding four others. Remember, each Beatitude grows out of the previous one(s). We began by seeing that we must be poor in spirit - that is, we must see how bankrupt we are before God in our own deeds. Secondly, we are to mourn concerning that spiritual bankruptcy. Third, we are to submit meekly all our passions under the Lordship of Christ and allow Him to put His strength in us under His full control. That will demand a deeper desire, a thirst and hunger, for righteousness - which is nothing more than experiencing more of Jesus Himself. Then we come to our Beatitude for today. When we come near to Jesus, we will be more merciful, even as He has shown us His mercy.

So let's look at the fifth Beatitude, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."

To see this passage properly, we need to understand three things.

I. Mercy Received By Us

Every true Christian understands that he or she is saved only because of the mercy and grace given to us by God through Christ. If you are a Christian today, you have received the mercy of God, which means that those who have never repented and received that mercy are lost and undone before God.

We read in 2 Corinthians 1:3: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort." The word compassion in that text is the Greek word for mercy. God is the Father of all mercies.

Throughout the Bible we see how people were blessed by the mercy of God:

  • In Psalms 25:16 we read, "Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted." The Psalmist knew his need and cried for the mercy of God.
  • God's mercy was shown to Lot and his family when they were taken out of Sodom and Gomorrah just in time as recorded in Genesis 19:16, "And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city."
  • You might think that Joseph was spared down in Egypt because he was a good man, but it was actually the mercy of God. Look at Genesis 39:21, "But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison."
  • In the New Testament people approached Jesus in the same way. Look at Matthew 9:27, "When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, 'Son of David, have mercy on us!'"

Do you see that the mercy of God is the reason for our blessings, our rescue and the only hope of any help from the Lord?

Note that the mercy of God is seen in three great acts of Christ.

A. The Coming of Christ to Us

The word mercy means to get inside the skin of another person and to see and feel life from that person's perspective. That is what Jesus did for us. He came here to identify with us. Look at Hebrews 4:15, "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin."

Jesus knows your heartache. He knows what it is to be alone. He knows what it feels like to weep. He knows what it is like to be deserted by friends, to have people talk about you behind your back, and to be condemned incorrectly. He knows what it is to go down into the valley of death. Jesus came and got in our skin to see life like us - yet, He did it without sinning. Hallelujah, what a Savior! We see His mercy in His birth and life.

B. The Cross of Christ for Us

We look at the cross and see the mercy of God for us. You see, mercy does not just feel, mercy acts! A great hymn penned,

"Mercy there was great and grace was free;

Pardon there was multiplied to  me;

There my burdened soul found liberty,

At Calvary."

C. The Conversion of Christ in Us

Biblical mercy cannot stand still. Look at the passage, "But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. We were made alive through the mercy of Christ."

What recipients of mercy we are. All true believers have been blessed with receiving the mercy of God. We can agree with the writer in Lamentations when he writes in Lamentations 3:22-23, "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

That brings us to the next point of this Beatitude. We note secondly,

II. Mercy Reflected Through Us

Those who have received mercy are to be those who give mercy. Sadly, not much mercy is dispensed between Christians or by Christians to a lost world. Alexander Pope, the great poet, penned, "To err is human, to forgive divine." Pope knew something about human nature. It is not in our natural ego to be forgiving and understanding of others. Yet we are called upon by the Lord to be merciful and, in fact, we are told by the Lord that the merciful are blessed in a special way.

What does it mean to be merciful? Does it mean being easy-going regarding sin and to be a person who will never judge anyone. Does it mean that God is so merciful that He will never send anyone to hell? Absolutely not. The Bible says that our God is a consuming fire. God is love, but love can be firm. A humanistic form of Christianity sees God as having no wrath. Those who view God in this way are blind to the portions of the Bible which reveal the wrath of God. But let's see what mercy really mean?

Remember the previous Beatitude, for it reveals something important about this Beatitude. The previous Beatitude spoke of our hunger and thirst for righteousness, which means a hunger and thirst for Christ Himself. The closer we come to Christ, the more His mercy will be reflected through us. After all, Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17-18).

Look at Matthew 7:1-5, which is the further rendering of the Sermon on the Mount and see how Jesus expanded on this idea.

We are not to judge so that we are not judged by the same measure. Now this does not mean that you cannot call a murderer a murderer. This does not mean that someone who drinks a fifth of whiskey everyday cannot be called an alcoholic. What it does mean is that we express love to those who sin. We try to find ways to help them.

There is a danger in believing that God is all love and no wrath. That is simply not true. The God of all mercy is also called a consuming fire. But God is willing to forgive those who are willing to confess. We should do likewise. That does not mean that people who do wrong should not have to pay in society for what they have done. Someone cannot kill a person and simply say, "Oops! I am sorry, please forgive me," and expect society to say, "OK, you have confessed, we totally forgive you, you can go in peace." No, it means that we do not judge such people on a personal basis. It means that we do not think of ourselves as more holy than others. It means that we are careful in the words we use to speak of such people, least we also be judged with the same attitude which we have shown toward them.

Our problem in judging is that we do not have all the facts. Secondly, we are sinners and our ability to judge is skewed by our own weakness and wickedness. You and I are simply twisted in our thinking and cannot possibly judge as God can judge. We may be able to judge something as legally wrong, and we may be able to sentence a person to prison or make them pay society as a price for their acts, but we cannot judge the person as beneath us in a moral sense since we are all sinners. That is why Jesus said to visit those in prison and to feed the hungry and to clothe the naked. We simply must have a love, which stretches out toward those who are hurting - even if they did cause their own hurt. Look at how Jesus put it in Matthew 9:13, "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

It is true that using God's Word we can point out that which God calls sin. At that point we are not condemning anyone but merely expressing the truth of sin as God has stated it. Even at this level we must be careful not to become the condemning judge of others. It is God who condemns, and He does that only after His mercy has been rejected.

Now note the ...

III. Mercy Rebounding To Us

In Matthew 18:23-35 we read the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. In this parable, Jesus tells of a man who is in debt the equivalent of $30 million dollars. I would say that was a big time loser, wouldn't you? He is about to be thrown into debtors prison, a place from which he would surely never escape with such a debt hanging over him, when the person to whom he owes the money forgives him the debt. Can you imagine the joy the man must have felt? The parable goes on to reveal that the forgiven man goes forth and comes in contact with a man who owes him the equivalent of $30.00.

The forgiven man proceeds to throw the poor man in prison that cannot pay the $30.00 he owes. When the master hears about this, he comes and removes the forgiveness of the $30 million debt and turns the formerly forgiven man over to be tortured until he pays all the debt.

The idea in the parable is that you and I have been forgiven an incredible debt of sin. We have received the mercy of God. If we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us. If we do not show mercy, we will not receive mercy. Again, this does mean that we ignore sin in others but that we seek to bring people in sin to the sin-forgiver - Jesus!

Now listen carefully. You will be given the same measure of mercy that you show to others. I do not believe that this applies to salvation, but it does apply to the peace, usefulness and joy that true mercy can bring. Many sorrows accompany our lives because we are so unforgiving of others. We desire merch for ourselves and those we love, but can be guilty of praying for those who are enemies to be judged fully for their wrongs.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. What do you think God wanted most for the person who plotted, planned and led others to do when they flew passengers jets into the Pentegon, the Twin Towers in New York City and one plane into a field in Pennsylvania? I've always thought how wonderful it would have been for Osama Bin Laden to surrender to authories, place His faith in Jesus for salvation and to accept his fate before an American court. How sad that he was killed in a hideout with pornographic movies littered around his dirty room. How sad that he went out to meet the God of mercy without any mercy whatsoever. Do you think God would have forgiven bin Laden if he had truly and honestly repented for his sins? I do! "Whosoever will," may come. Sadly, he didn't do so. He died a pitiful, sinful killer and met his fate before the Holy God. The man who showed no mercy and sought no mercy also found no mercy.

When the infidel Robert G. Ingersoll was delivering his lectures against Christ and the Bible, his oratorical ability usually assured him a large crowd. One night after an inflammatory speech in which he severely attacked man's faith in the Savior, he dramatically took out his watch and said, "I'll give God a chance to prove that He exists and is almighty. I challenge Him to strike me dead within 5 minutes!" First there was silence, and then people became uneasy. Some left the hall; unable to take the nervous strain of the occasion. It is said that one woman fainted. At the end of the allocated time, the atheist exclaimed derisively, "See! There is no God. I am still very much alive!" After the lecture a young fellow said to a Christian lady, "Well, Ingersoll certainly proved something tonight!" Her reply was memorable. "Yes, he did," she said. "He demonstrated that even the most defiant sinner cannot exhaust the mercy of the Lord in just 5 minutes!"


A little boy had been warned, "Don't go near the swimming hole, and whatever you do don't get those clothes wet and dirty." The little boy hurried off to school. But as he came home, and felt the warm sunshine, he couldn't help but stop by and look at his favorite spot - the old swimming hole.  He got a little to close and fell in with his clothes on. He went home with his head hung down in defeat. He had a little writing board like they used in those days and as he neared home he wrote these words with his little piece of chalk, "Mom, I fell in the swimming hole. I'm sorry." When he got to the house, he pulled open the back screen door and stuck his hand inside with the writing board in it. His mother saw his hand and took the board from him. In an instant she was angry. Then, she peeped outside and saw him sitting down on the stoop, his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands. She suddenly felt a surge of motherly mercy. She pulled up her apron and rubbed out all his words. She wrote one word herself, "Forgiven." The boy heard the old creaking door open and saw his mother's hand holding the board. He took it from her, read the one word and jerked open the door and ran to throw his arms around his mother's legs with big tears running down his face. He had been shown mercy.

We have been there. All of us who are saved have been there, done that! We came to our Lord when we had fallen in the devil's swimming hole. When we thrusted our confession into HIs hands, He wrote, "Forgiven!"

Now he calls on us to treat others likewise. Is there some grudge you are holding against another? Is there some judgment you have made in unkindness and unforgiveness? You are hurting yourself, you are hurting your witness, and you are hurting others. Why not this very moment ask God to make you a merciful person - after all, those who show mercy will receive mercy in like measure!