“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” —Matthew 5:7-8
Scripture Reading: Psalm 103:8-18; Ephesians 1:4; Titus 2:14
The work of God’s Spirit within us should produce a mercy beyond the comprehension of sinners. When Jesus cried out on the cross, “Father, forgive them,” He was our ultimate example (Luke 23:34). No mercy or forgiveness could be greater than seeking the forgiveness of our persecutors.
Among the Jews, mercy signified two different things—forgiveness and almsgiving. Not only will a merciful person extend forgiveness to the one who has wronged him, but will reach out to the poor and outcast of the world. For Christians today, mercy should be two-fold also. Our burden must not only extend to the sinner but to those who can’t help themselves. Both of these aspects are seen in God’s mercy. Not only have we been forgiven, but we’ve been given the gift of eternal life—forgiveness and almsgiving.
The reward for the merciful is mercy. This isn’t to say that we receive the mercy of salvation by our works, but that the mercy we receive from God must result in an inner transformation and outward manifestation. If we’re not a forgiving people, we won’t continue in the forgiveness of God. And, if we don’t reach out to the outcast and “lepers” of this world with mercy, then there is little hope that the mercy of God will be a continuing part of our Christian lives.
From mercy, Christ speaks of purity. Our hope lies in the resurrection, knowing that someday we will actually see our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The means by which we see Him is purity. It isn’t that we make ourselves pure by works of the flesh. No man can ever make himself pure. Rather, the purity Christ is referring to is a grace of God, accomplished by His Spirit. It’s not accomplished from the outside in—it’s done from the inside out. We become pure because we’ve experienced the changing power of the Living God.
- What is mercy in light of the following scriptures? Psalm 103:8-17; Genesis 18:23-33; Nehemiah 9:17; Ephesians 2:4-5.
- What can we learn about mercy from the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:22-35? Also consider Matthew 25:31-46. Must we exercise mercy to receive mercy? Why does true mercy seem to be elusive for many Christians?
Note: Mercy in Matthew 5:7 doesn’t refer to specific acts of mercy, but to the person who has become merciful through the transforming power of God’s Spirit and Word. Those who do acts of mercy aren’t necessarily merciful.
- God promises mercy to His children (Psalm 41:1-3; Isaiah 58:10-11; Matthew 5:7), but is this promise dependent on anything? 2 Samuel 22:24-26; Jeremiah 3:12-14.
- Examine God’s mercy and discuss how it relates to our need for mercy in everyday life? Micah 7:18-20; Lamentations 3:22-23; Joel 2:13; Titus 3:5. Consider the example of Jesus’ mercy, when He cried out from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
- Why must we be pure to see God? Hebrews 12:14; Leviticus 11:45; Luke 16:15. Is true purity a work of God or a work of man or both? Proverbs 20:9; John 17:17; Ephesians 5:26-27; 1 Peter 1:22; Psalm 119:9.
- Is the promise to see God both a present and future one? Job 42:1-5; John 16:14-15; 1 John 3:2; 1 Corinthians 13:12; Revelation 22:2-5.
This week, examine your choices of entertainment—TV, books, movies, magazines—and determine if they are cultivating purity in your Christian walk. If not, make a commitment to stop practicing it, and ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable.
Also, memorize and meditate on Micah 7:18-20. Let God speak to you by His Spirit and reveal His mercy to you in a new way.