Listen: Matthew 5:7: Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
In Romans 12:8 Paul identifies “showing mercy” as one of the gifts of the Spirit. Remember what we the Beatitudes are all about. They show the godly character of the believer and are similar to the “fruit of the Spirit” that Paul speaks about in Galatians.
This verse is often misinterpreted as a formula for how to get along with people – be nice to them and they in turn will be nice to you. The logic is that the way to receive benefit from people is to bestow some benefit on them. We all know from our personal experience that while this may be true some of the time, it is not always true. Clearly, this is not what Jesus is teaching. Neither is He teaching that by a believer’s demonstration of mercy, he or she earns credits so that one day at the judgment God will show them mercy because they had earned it. Here is the point in a nutshell – Showing mercy does not make us believers (it’s not the a condition God demands of us before He lets us in the Kingdom). Showing mercy demonstrates we are believers. This godly (God-like) mercy Jesus is referring to is not a natural characteristic of the human heart. Mercy belongs to God and He gives it to His children to dispense to those in need. In the dispensing process, those individuals show that they are true believers and also receive the wonderful reward of more mercy from God. We can’t out give His mercy to us. We give. He bestows more.
I met a man in Xi’an China who impressed me with his ministry of mercy. He used his small church as a hospice for AIDS patience. No one in China cares for AIDS patience. They are the object of scorn and disgust. The government doesn’t care for them at all. This Christian pastor cared for many AIDS patients and nursed them until they died. He showed them mercy and brought them the hope of the gospel so that many died in the faith. I cannot think of a more God-like quality than showing mercy.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, your mercies are new to me every morning! Great is your faithfulness! My prayer today is that you will give me your heart and your eyes so that I might see the suffering around me and show them mercy and compassion. I ask this in your name. Amen.
Listen: Matthew 5:8: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
My initial reaction when I read these words was this. Maybe I can see myself in the other beatitudes, but I cannot see myself in this one. And then I remembered what I had learned earlier, that the Holy Spirit doesn’t give a Christian some parts of a Christian character and not others. He has entered into my heart and given me all the characteristics of that make me truly blessed.
The basic idea of a “pure heart” is that of integrity, singleness of heart, as opposed to duplicity, a double heart, a divided heart. When God cleanses sinners and makes them His children, He does more than merely wash away sin. He puts within them a new heart that wants to focus wholly on God. “I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them” (Jeremiah 32:39). And in Ezekiel 36:26: “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” This is spiritual and moral integrity. It was this integrity that made David a successful king, and it was the lack of this integrity that corrupted and defeated Saul.
I have the integrity of a pure heart in my inner being because the Spirit has given it it me. But I also have my sinful nature, which means that a war is raging inside of me every day, as Paul described in Romans 7: 22-23: “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind…” When you feel like you don’t have a pure heart, you are looking at your sinful nature. But if you didn’t have the pure heart of your new man in you as well, there wouldn’t be a war raging in you, would there? Being blessed with a pure heart doesn’t mean you don’t struggle. It means you will never give up the struggle.
Prayer: Create in me pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me (Psalm 51:10-12). Amen.