Blessed are the Merciful
If you're not familiar with how this blog series goes click HERE and read the intro from the first week.
Your mercies are beyond comprehension. Make us aware of your favor on our lives. As we receive mercy teach us to give it in return. Draw us near to you. Allow your goodness to flow through us to the world.
Definition of mercy
a : compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power; also : lenient or compassionate treatment begged for mercy b : imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder
a : a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion May God have mercy on us.b : a fortunate circumstance it was a mercy they found her before she froze
compassionate treatment of those in distress works of mercy among the poor
We are generally familiar with the term. But it frequently gets confused with the misinterpreted word "grace" which, as we talked about last week, is not the same. The new testament use of "mercy" is pretty much in line with the above definition.
When one is merciful it just means to show leniency or compassion. Those are good substitutes for the word "mercy".
We all need mercy. We need mercy sometimes when we wake up. When we know we are facing a daunting task. We need mercy from our loved ones when we fail them. We would like mercy from the officer who pulled us over while speeding. Sometimes we need mercy in finances. Whoever we are, we have faced a situation where mercy was needed.
But what about Mercy from God?
What does that look like?
The best way to understand that is to understand God's relationship to us. The Old Testament is a great place to start. There are a few words used in hebrew for the word "mercy" so let's look at those and see what they say about it.
The first one to talk about is "chanan" (transliterated because 99.9% of us, including me, can't read Hebrew). This is more inline with what we traditionally think of as "mercy". No surprises here.
to be gracious, show favour, pity
(Qal) to show favour, be gracious
(Niphal) to be pitied
(Piel) to make gracious, make favourable, be gracious
(Poel) to direct favour to, have mercy on
(Hophal) to be shown favour, be shown consideration
(Hithpael) to seek favour, implore favour
to be loathsome
The second is "chesed"
goodness, kindness, faithfulness
a reproach, shame
No surprises here again. Along with our traditional thoughts on mercy.
It's the third word that really changes things up.
racham, rakh'-am; from H7355; compassion (in the plural); by extension, the womb (as cherishing the fetus); by implication, a maiden:—bowels, compassion, damsel, tender love, (great, tender) mercy, pity, womb.
In Hebrew tradition the heart, soul, essence of something was in the center of the physical being... hence bowels or even more thought provoking "WOMB".
***side note: if you have an issue with the ancient Hebrews using a femine description in relation to God we have more to talk about.***
In the heart, core, essence, etc... of God we find Racham... we find Mercy, in the womb of God... in the place where creation was birthed from!
It's no wonder that Jesus, the one who, "God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him." would say something as radical as, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Mercy is in HIS core. Mercy is in the core of the creator of creation!
If we are to, "be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matt 5:48) it's no wonder that Mercy is a distinct call on our lives!
James continues in chapter 3, verse 17, "But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere."
Mercy is a part of the wisdom of God!
Mercy is in our DNA from the father!
Mercy is part of who we are!
In 1 Peter it's pretty clear that MERCY is tied to who you are:
At one point you had no identity, and now you're HIS.... You had no MERCY and now you've received HIS.
You are His.
You are from "His" "womb".
Mercy in in HIS core and it's in your DNA.
Are you reflecting Mercy to the world?
Are you reflecting Judgement?
Do you look like Jesus?
Do you look like the pharisee?
Do you whisper the forgiveness of the cross?
Do you scream the condemnation from the street corner?
God is our father. we were formed in his womb (let the semantics go!). We are HIS children. His DNA is embedded in us. We are called to reflect His mercy to the world.
In what ways do we do that?
In what ways has the church failed?
In what ways have you been hurt by the lack of that?
In what ways have you hurt others by that?
Today, let us repent of the lack of mercy. Let Mercy be our trademark. Let us be known by MERCY!
Questions? Let's talk in the comments below!