Attitude Adjustment #5 - The Merciful

Bible Book: Matthew  5 : 7
Subject: Beatitudes; Mercy, Forgiveness; Grudge
Series: Attitude Adjustment - The Beatitudes
Introduction

We come now to Beatitude number five. I am reading from Matthew chapter 5 and verse 7. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." (NKJV)

Mr. Jones picked up the wrong umbrella in a hotel lobby and was about to walk out when the actual owner said, "Hey, I think that is my umbrella you have there." Mr. Jones apologized and went back to find his own umbrella. After he found it, he thought about the fact that he had promised to buy his wife and daughter new umbrellas. So, he went into a store and bought two new umbrellas. He was walking out of the store when he happened to run into the man whose umbrella he had originally picked up by mistake. The man, thinking that Mr. Jones had robbed two other people of their umbrellas, said, "I see you have had good day after all." Although Mr. Jones blushed, he was not guilty of any wrongdoing. He had simply been misjudged.

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 should give to others.

As we have studied the Beatitudes, we have learned that each one reveals an attitude that ought to be in the heart and life of every Christian. When Christ saved us, He gave us eternal life; however, we still need to grow and learn to walk with Christ in our daily life. The Bible clearly teaches that God is working on us to bring us into the image of His dear Son, Jesus Christ. We read in Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." (NKJV) The Lord is working in us to complete the good work He began when He saved us. In order to be what we should be, we must adapt our attitudes to those of Christ. Note that Philippians 2:5 states, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." (NKJV) We must adapt our mind, our thinking, to that of Christ. Thus, today, we look at the attitude of mercy.

I. Mercy Received By us

We begin with the fact that all Christians are recipients of the mercy of God. We are not saved because we are better than lost people but because we have accepted the mercy God provides through Christ. He offered us this mercy because He is a God of grace. Grace is the unmerited favor of God. We might put it like this:

Grace removed the Stain of Sin; but, Mercy removed the Pain of sin.

Mercy does not want us to live with the regret of past sins. Mercy does not desire punishment for that which is forgiven by grace. God desires that we have this same attitude toward others. I want you to see how we received this mercy.

A. The Compassion of Christ for Us

Look at Ephesians 2:4. "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us." Mercy comes from God. He is the God of all comfort as stated in 2 Corinthians 1:3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort." (NKJV) Do you see how this passage tells us clearly that He is the Father of mercies and the God of ALL comfort? And He revealed that mercy and comfort fully in Jesus, His Son.

God's mercy worked in us the act of salvation, not because we were deserving but because He is merciful. We read in Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy.” If our salvation depended upon our worthiness, all of us would perish.

We see this in Luke 1:78, "Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us." That Dayspring from on high is Jesus! In mercy He came! He came because He had compassion and mercy upon us.

We are receipents of the mercy of God and we are called upon to act in mercy toward others. This is a spiritual principle which the Bible speaks of repeatedly.

B.. The Cross of Christ for Us

The Lord does not approach us with anger or judgment, but rather He extends the nail-scarred hand of mercy toward us. He does this out of His abundant love and grace. It is not God’s desire to judge you or destroy you, for it that was His chief desire He has always had the power to carry out our destruction. Even when I was a sinner, God loved me and wanted me to know His mercy through salvation. There will be a day of judgment to come, but this is the day of mercy and grace. All who respond to His mercy with repentence and faith will never have to face the day of judgment.

C. The Communication of Christ through Us

It is the duty of every Christian to show the mercy of God through our lives. We are to have a loving, caring attitude toward people who have fallen into sin because that is the attitude God had for us when He called us to His Son. We are to communicate God's love, for the door to salvation is open to all who believe upon His Son and receive Him as Lord and Savior.

Do not think that God's mercy comes to us cheaply or thoughtlessly. His mercy is given to us at great cost. His Son died in our place in order that mercy might be made available to all who believe. Looking back at the cross reminds us of the awful cost that sin exacted upon Jesus in our behalf.

Be sure of this, for you to show mercy to someone who has hurt you will cost you. Someone here today might say that it is difficult for you to have mercy on a person who has caused you hardship. You need to remember that your sins crucified Jesus - yet, God had mercy on YOU! You could never suffer a sorrow or pain as difficult as that suffered by the Father when His Son died at Calvary. The Cross reveals the measure of God's mercy toward us and reminds us of the measure of mercy we must show to others.

II. Mercy Reflected Through Us

A. The People of Mercy

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. In fact, for many Christians there is not much mercy offered to fellow believers. Churches are often known for their fights and divisions. I’m thrilled that we don’t have that in our fellowship, but it is likely that there are some members who have been hurt by other Christians and find it hard to extend mercy. It is hard! Ask Jesus if it is hard! He paid an awful price for your sin and mine.

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, are told by the Lord that the merciful are blessed in a special way.

B. The Path to Mercy

What does it mean to be merciful? Does it mean to be easy-going and never judge anyone? 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 toward sin but those who view God in this way are blind to the portions of the Bible which reveal the wrath of God. What does mercy 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).

To be merciful does not mean that we condone sin. This does not mean that you cannot call a murdered a murderer. This does not mean that someone who drinks a fifth of whiskey everyday cannot be called an alcoholic. What is does mean is that we express love to those who sin. We try to find ways to help them.

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 free!" No, it means that we do not judge such people on a personal basis, and 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!

C. The Problem in Mercy

Our problem in judging is that we do not have all the facts. We are sinners and our ability to judge is skewed by our own weakness and wickedness. You and I simply are 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 a price for their acts, but we cannot judge the person as beneath us in a spiritual way 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 that 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." We must learn what it means to show mercy. It means as much to God, and perhaps more, than our works in His service. To "sacrifice" meant to go through a religious service of worship. What good is our worship, or our work in the church, if our hearts are filled with judgment of other people? We simply must show mercy!

III. Mercy Rebounding To Us

Showing mercy results in mercy rebounding to us. Mercy has an echo! 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 he was a big time loser, wouldn't you? He is about to thrown into debtor's prison, a place for which he would surely never escape with such a debt hanging over his head, when the person to whom he owes the money forgives the debt. Can you imagine the joy a man would feel who was granted such mercy? 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 because he cannot pay the $30.00 he owes him. 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 and we have experienced the mercy of God. The Lord paid a debt He didn't owe and forgave us a debt we could not pay. Thus, if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us. If we do not show mercy, we will not receive mercy.

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 to the individual Christian. Many sorrows accompany our lives because we are unforgiving. Many tortures plague us because we are unwilling to offer to others the same kindness and mercy that God has given us.

When the infidel Robert G. Ingersoll was delivering his lectures against Christ and the Bible, his oratorical ability usually assured him of 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 five minutes!" First there was silence; then people became uneasy. Some left the hall because they were unable to take the nervous strain of the occasion. One woman fainted. At the end of the allotted 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 five minutes!

Conclusion

How wonderful and marvelous is the mercy of God! How much more wonderful His mercy can be if we His people show mercy to one another and to others.

Do you need mercy today? Why not come to the One who died for you and ask of Him the mercy that is ready to be given

But, what about those of us who need to show more mercy! Some of us ought to look inside ourselves and ask if we have a heart full mercy for those who have fallen into sin or for those who have wronged us.

The 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 could not 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 thrust our confession into our 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? I am not taking lightly what you may have suffered or how much it has cost you or hurt you, but if you hold onto that grudge you are actually hurting yourself, you are hurting your witness, and you are hurting others. You can be free of the weight of anger or resentment you are carrying in your heart. 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!