Thoughts on the Beatitudes (9) - Evan Gear

Matthew 5:7 — Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Mourning, meekness, hunger, mercy — these are the characteristics of one who is blessed. They build upon one another. The one who mourns his sin in light of the holiness of God — who has learned to compare himself to heaven’s standard — such a one will be a meek person. And the one who has thus learned meekness, who has seen his utter inability to save himself, will know deep hungering and thirsting for righteousness. The hungering one hungers because he has obtained mercy.

This beatitude, indeed all of them, take for granted a certain fact: God has acted in history. Jesus speaks on the mount with an eye to the cross and the sure expectation of future glory. He will do it all freely owing nothing to his people. They, we, have not compelled the High and Holy One to come down to us. No, God the Father sends His Son of sheer mercy.

The Greek translators of the Hebrew Old Testament often use the word mercy for the Hebrew word (chesed) that our English Bibles translate with the short phrase “covenant faithfulness” or “steadfast love.” His covenant faithfulness is an act of mercy. We may fail on our side but he does not let us go, in mercy he remains our God and considers us his people. In mercy he seeks and saves what is lost.

The Psalms bear a continual witness to this. Take, for example, Psalm 115:1 — Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love [mercy] and your faithfulness!

Also, Psalm 117:2 — For great is his steadfast love [mercy] toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!
It is the confession of every sinner saved by grace, “God has been merciful to me.” We do not confess covenant faithfulness or even predestined grace; we confess mercy. And this affects us. Having known such abundant mercy, we ourselves are merciful (Luke 6:36). We, in this way, become “imitators of God (Eph. 5:1).” All our actions are characterized by mercy, and our lives are tinted with mercy. We often lose sight of this wanting to be like God in his glorious power and victory. We want to reign. We forget that this is the path to such reigning, to such glory. It is a path of mercy, for it is the path that he has paved in his Son. Mercy is exemplified in loving his enemies by pouring out their punishment upon an innocent, spotless Lamb. It was for this reason that Jesus came. He took on flesh that he might “show mercy (Luke 1:72).”
Titus 3:4-5 — When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy…
So, you see, this beatitude is not a blessing conferred on us for our deeds but a description of one who has truly received the gift of God’s mercy. Blessed is the one who has truly known mercy; he/she is merciful. And, as such, we who have received the down-payment will most certainly receive the full reward. The merciful now shall (on the day of judgment) receive mercy. Having received Him here. Having lived in Him here. We shall receive Him as he is there when He comes. Why? Because we will be ready for him. Forgiving as we have been forgiven. Merciful in his mercy.
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