As a preacher, you’d be surprised at how many of the problems I deal with have to do with bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness. And when presented with the biblical rationale in dealing with these issues, I hear things like “I’m not Jesus, I can’t be expected to forgive everyone,” “They didn’t go through what I went through,” or “You don’t know what they did to me.” And yet, Jesus and His followers speak on this issue often. Jesus said “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Let’s consider the weight of this statement.
Blessed. You receive blessings while being a person who is merciful. This does not mean people won’t take advantage of you, nor does it mean that your life will be free of trials: that’s not what a blessing is. It means God shows you His favor as you show mercy to others. You are blessed within the act, not because of it, nor will the situations around the act be free of trial and trouble (look at Jesus. His life and ministry were definitely not serene!).
…are the merciful. We are blessed when we are merciful. Mercy is showing someone grace, forgiveness, and compassion when they don’t deserve it, especially if that person is an enemy. A person who is full of mercy shows kindness, forgiveness and compassion to those who have wronged them, even praying for their welfare and salvation. This is the opposite of bitterness. Those who are bitter hold grudges, are angry, and desire revenge, or, at the very least, will cut people out of their lives for slights that they may never even tell the offender about. A person full of mercy, however, knows that they are forgiven, and this forgiveness came at the cost of the Son of God. Mercy becomes a part of their life because the debts they owed to God for their sin can never be repaid, and God, through His son Jesus, paid each and every one with Christ’s blood. Whatever wrong someone may do to the merciful one is nothing compared to what they have been forgiven of, so they mercy becomes a part of who they are.
…for they shall receive mercy. This is a tough statement for many. Jesus says if we do not forgive, we cannot be forgiven. We shall not receive mercy unless we are full of mercy. Unless we show compassion to our enemies and those who wrong us. Consider this statement a moment. How do you fare in this statement? Will you receive mercy? You are blessed as you are merciful, for you will receive mercy. Does this describe you? If not, drop to your knees, and ask the Lord’s forgiveness. Then go and forgive others.
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”