Sunday, February 26, 2012

“Blessed are the Merciful”

The fifth beatitude states: "Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy" (Matt. 5:7; NKJV). The word "merciful" means "having pity or mercy on." It involves responding to the needs of others. Here the saying of Jesus echoes the 112th Psalm which contains a beatitude of its own: "Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who delights greatly in His commandments" (v.1). The psalm goes on to describe the character of such a person: "He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man deals graciously and lends. . ." (vv. 4,5). "He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor . . ." (v. 9). The promise in our text in Matthew is that the Lord will amply reward the generous man and supply his own needs. "For they shall obtain mercy." This principle of generosity towards others and responding to their needs likewise finds its root in the Torah: ". . . you shall love your neighbor as yourself . . ." (Lev. 19:18).

    Our Creator wants us to have a basic concern and compassion for each other. Our natural tendency is to be self-centered and to think only or ourselves. We are jealous of our "property rights" and assume that we own nothing to others. But that mentality reflects a moral failure on our part – a calloused indifference to the plight of our fellow human beings. And yet our existence hangs by a slender thread, and we are ultimately dependent upon the mercies of God for our sustenance. If we expect sympathy and compassion from Him, we should be willing to extend it to others when it is in our power to do so.

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