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Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy


(Matthew 5:7)
Mercy in Hebrew is Chesedh, and this word occurs more than 150 times in
the Old Testament and nine-tenths of the time, it occurs in reference to God
and his actions. Chesedh is translated kindness. In Greek, the word is
eleos. It occurs 27 times in the New Testament.
We think of mercy mostly in terms of the remission of penalty, or the
relaxing of a demand which might have been enforced. In ordinary usage, to
have mercy upon a man is to agree not to treat him wit the sternness and
severity and the rigorous justice which he deserves. When mercy is
extended to someone, the person receiving it has done wrong and is in no
position to demand anything but to plead humbly for mercy.
The Bible speaks of mercy as belonging to God (Isaiah 62:12) and that God
delights in mercy (Micah 7:18). It also describes Gods mercy as being
infinite that it reaches the heavens (Psalm 36:5) and so enduring that it lasts
forever (Psalm 89:1,2).
Mercy is the outgoing love of God and is the basis of Gods whole
relationship to man. It is no capricious thing, changing as it were with the
mood of God; it is something on which men can absolutely depend on
because it is founded on the fidelity and steadfastness of God to himself and
to his promises.
Since mercy is the characteristic of God in his relationship with us, it is only
to be expected that God wishes this mercy to be the characteristic of mens
relationships with one another. Thus Micah sums up the whole duty of men
as doing justice and loving mercy and to walk humbly before God (6:8).
Twice Jesus quotes the saying of Hosea, that God wants mercy and not
sacrifice (Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13, 12:27). His condemnation of the
Pharisees is that they have been meticulous about he details of the
ceremonial law and have forgotten the great essentials of justice, mercy and
faith (Matthew 23:23).
Against the background of the known world then, Jesus teaching on mercy
becomes extremely significant. A Christ-less world even today is a callous
world, and mercy was never a characteristic of pagan life.
Simon Siew
Southeast Asia Union Mission

Illustration: A world without Christ is a world without mercy. One of Mary


Slessors most heart-breaking problems in Calabar was the fact that the
Africans there dreaded twins as being of evil omen. They were never
allowed to live; they were first killed, crushed into an earthenware pot and
flung to leopards to devour.
Illustration: Sir Henry Holland, the famous medical missionary from Quetta
related how people broke out into laughter when he told his patient that his
eyes were beyond treatment. They would tell his patient to be gone and not
be a nuisance to the doctor.
Illustration: Nazi atrocities during World War 2 and the Killing Fields of
Cambodia (acts committed by the Khmer Rouge)
The Jews were merciless to the sinner and merciless to the Gentile. They
taught that there is joy before God when a sinner is destroyed but as Jesus
saw it, there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7,10).
Jesus believed in the salvation of the sinner whereas the Jews believed in
their obliteration.
To be merciful is to have the same attitude to men as God has, to think of
men as God thinks of them, to feel for men as God feels for them and to act
towards men as God himself acts.
Mercy is the reverse of self-centeredness; it is something which the man
who concentrates on himself can never possess in his heart and can never
show in his life. The one practising mercy however has the attitude in which
he sees the needs of others as more claimant than his own and the sorrows of
others more poignant than his own. Mercy means the ability to get right into
the other persons skin until we can see with his eyes, think with his mind
and feel with his heart.
Herein lies the problem of mercy; most people are so concerned with their
own thoughts and feelings that they seldom or never even think of making
this deliberate attempt to identify themselves with the mind and heart of
others. He simply has no time, money nor the energy to be merciful.

Simon Siew
Southeast Asia Union Mission

Mercy is actualized outgoing love and not simply a sentiment nor an


emotion. It is action. The Bible does not say: God so loved the world and
stop there but God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
Mercy is the willingness to forget self and the making of deliberate and
conscious effort to identify ourselves with others. It makes tolerance of
others much easier. No man has any real right to condemn another man until
he has stood in the same position, and faced the same temptation and come
through the same battle.
The supreme demonstration of this mercy is the Incarnation. In Jesus Christ,
God literally entered into our skins, seeing things with out eyes, thinking
things with our minds, feeling things with our hearts. The Incarnation is
Gods complete self-identification with the sins, sorrowing and the
sufferings of men.
The Beatitude ends with the promise that the merciful shall obtain mercy.
Here is an inescapable principle laid down by Jesus. With what judgment
you judge, so shall you be judged, and with what measure you meted out, it
shall be measured to you again (Matthew 7:2). If you forgive men their
trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you but if you forgive not,
neither will the Father forgive you (Matthew 6:14,15).
The one who is not merciful is inevitably so unaware of his own state that he
thinks he needs no mercy. He cannot picture himself as miserable and
wretched; so how shall God be merciful to him when he feels no need of it.
By contrast, the person whose experience reflects these Beatitudes is
conscious of his spiritual bankruptcy and mourns over it and hungers after
righteousness. He is merciful towards others because he sees himself as
needing mercy too that he is no different from others.
He who has practised mercy in his life will become more and more like God
and he who has made no attempt to practise it will become ever more distant
from God. The practice of mercy is that which unites us with God; the
failure of it which will cause us to be separated from Him. And so the
ending of this Beatitude is a promise and warning at the same time.

Simon Siew
Southeast Asia Union Mission