This is the Sunday morning sermon for May 3rd, 2009.

Mercy Me.
Matthew 5:7.

Matthew 5:7 ISV – How blessed are those who are merciful, for it is they who will receive mercy!

This morning we are continuing our series entitled, “Developing a be-attitude attitude.” We are looking into Matthew 5:7 and the subject of mercy.

Mercy is a subject that our culture just does not understand. We want our rights, and we want to run over people who might get in the way of our rights. Also, in our society it doesn’t matter how we arrive at success in life, just as long as we get there.

Well, this is a very humanistic approach to life.

Suppose I was taking a two hour trip, but I was really in a rush. Though the speed limit is 70, I do 90 so as to get there considerably early. Am I wrong for doing this? Of course I am. Why? Because I have broken the law concerning speeding. Now let’s suppose that a highway patrol clocks me doing 90 and pulls me over. Is he justified in giving me a ticket? Of course he is. Why is he justified in giving me a ticket? Well for two reasons: (First), I broke the law; (Second), he is the enforcer for those who break the law. You see, it doesn’t matter if I agree with the law, like the law, or are in a rush or not, speeding is still breaking the law. I deserve to be punished. I deserve a ticket. Now let’s suppose that the officer decides to only give me a warning and not a ticket. What is that? Well, that is mercy.

What is mercy then? Well, let’s look at some dictionary definitions.

• compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence.
• the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment.
• an act of kindness, compassion, or favor.
• something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing.

You see, basically mercy is not receiving punishment when you deserve it.

Now so far in our study in the beatitudes we have seen that the other ones we have covered (poor and destitute in spirit and mourning) had to do with an individual person’s deep spiritual need.

There is now a change in the beatitudes from here on out. They are now focusing on the individuals attitudes that motivate their actions. You see, amongst this crowd that Jesus is teaching is the religious elite (the Pharisees) of his day. They didn’t worry about attitudes, they focused on actions alone (which by the way is legalism).

In fact, legalism and religion in our days are not concerned with their own attitudes, but the actions of others, and they don’t care if they are injurious or not as long as they can demand perfection of people’s actions. But what the Pharisees of Jesus day, nor the religious and legalist of our day realize is that actions are governed by our attitudes. That is why in so many places in Scripture, Jesus deals with the attitude, or what people are thinking over their actions.

Let’s look at our Scripture text this morning, as well as Micah 6:6-7 and see what the Lord would speak to us concerning mercy and being merciful.

God doesn’t desire us to be religious in our relationship with Him, and others.

Matthew 5:7 ISV – How blessed are those who are merciful, for it is they who will receive mercy!

Notice this passage states that we are blessed when we are merciful. What does it mean to be merciful? In Greek, merciful can also mean, “compassionate, or to be moved with compassion.”

The dictionary definition of the word, “compassion” is: “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”

Understand something this morning: everyone has been stricken by the same misfortune, and everyone on this planet has all had to endure the same suffering – and that misfortune and suffering is called sin. We all have sinned against God; we all have sinned against one another.

Romans 3:23 NASB – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

We all deserve God’s wrath. But God, being merciful looked down on us and gave us grace and justified us in His sight through Christ.

Romans 5:1-2 ESV – 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Since we have received mercy from God, we should be merciful to others. Holding grudges, badmouthing people, unforgiveness, is not being merciful – it is sin: Period.

God reveals something to us in the Old Testament book of Micah that I believe goes along with what it truly means to be merciful. Let’s look at the passage and then discuss it.

Micah 6:6-7 NLT (se) – 6 What can we bring to the LORD? What kind of offerings should we give him? Should we bow before God with offerings of yearling calves? 7 Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins 8 No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Notice and vv. 6-7 has to do with religious worship. God longs to be worshiped, don’t get me wrong, but the worship He desires is from the heart, not ritual.

Hosea 6:6 NLT (se) – I want you to show love (mercy), not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.

Church, please get this: sometimes our religion can get in the way of the purpose behind our religion – to know God and love Him and to love others and show mercy toward them through that love.

God doesn’t want our religious platitudes, rituals, and things of that nature. He wants us to be merciful as He is merciful. He wants us to be compassionate as He is compassionate.

Let’s go on in Micah and see what this looks like.

The merciful do what is right.

Micah 6:8 NLT (se) – this is what he requires of you: to do what is right…

What does it mean to do what is right? Well, this has to do with our treatment of one another, let’s look at a few passages in Scripture.

Do not think to highly of yourself but use sober judgment.

Romans 12:3 ISV – For by the grace given to me I ask every one of you not to think of yourself more highly than you should think, rather to think of yourself with sober judgment on the measure of faith that God has assigned each of you.

Be devoted and truly love other believers, and show them proper respect.

Romans 12:10 ISV – Be devoted to each other with mutual affection. Excel in showing respect for each other.

Don’t be conceited and ambitious, but think of others.

Philippians 2:3 ISV – Do not act out of selfish ambition or conceit, but with humility think of others as being better than yourselves.

Don’t backbite and gossip about another believer.

Galatians 5:14-16 NIV – 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Do not backbite and gossip about Elders and Pastors, but give them double honor.

1 Timothy 5:17-19 NIV – 17The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” 19Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.

The merciful love mercy.

Micah 6:8b NLT (se) – to love mercy…

Sense God has been merciful to us, we should not only be merciful to others, but we should love being merciful to them.

Let’s look at a few passages considering this truth.

Forgiving those who sin against us.

Matthew 18:21-22 ISV – 21 Then Peter came up and asked him, “Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I have to forgive him? Seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!

Get rid of bitterness and wrath against another believer because it grieves God’s Spirit.

Ephesians 4:30-32 ISV – 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, quarreling, and slander be put away from you, along with all hatred. 32 And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another just as God has forgiven you in Christ.

The merciful walk humbly before the Lord.

Micah 6:8c NLT (se) – walk humbly with your God.

One other passage dealing with humility.

1 Peter 5:5-6 ISV – 5 In a similar way, you young people must be submissive to the elders. All of you must put on the apron of humility before one another, because “God opposes the arrogant, but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time he may exalt you.

In closing let me state that if we are merciful and show compassion to one another, we will receive mercy and compassion, both in this life, and in the next life as well. God expects His followers to be merciful, why? Because He has been merciful toward us. Let’s be agents of mercy toward one another.