The Merciful

The Merciful

In Habakkuk 2:4, the prophet declared, “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.” Although this is the first time the principle is stated in these words, it is not new. It is as old as God’s dealings with man. The righteous have always and will always live by faith (Gal. 2:20). Therefore, it is important for us to understand faith, and how to develop a faith approach to living. The Beatitudes can help us because they give us basic information about the person who lives a life of faith. Let’s consider the fourth, which describes those who are merciful (Matt. 5:7).

Remember, mercy follows the beginning of faith (Matt. 5:3-5) and the growth of faith (Matt. 5:6). At some point, a faith that grows must mature. It is at that point; the person of faith begins to reflect the image of God in his or her own life and extend outward to others. Therefore, the merciful are the first in the list of attitudes in the perfection of faith (Matt. 5:7-12).

Mercy is “a feeling of sympathy (or pity) that moves one to act in kindness – usually when such kindness is unexpected and undeserved.” It is a quality of the very nature of God toward those “who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deut. 7:9; Joel 2:13). It is what enables Him to be sensitive toward our distress (Psalm 4:1; 6:2). It is what deters our punishment for sin (Psalm 41:1; 51:1).

Mercy is the necessary balance to righteousness. God is righteous, but if He were only righteous, He would be hard, demanding, and impossible for us to approach. Likewise, people who are only “righteous” are hard, cold, and so judgmental that there is no room for anything except perfection. Mercy softens righteousness with compassion and understanding, though it never contradicts the truth. Mercy is the “You shall not,” tempered by the voice of Calvary saying, “Father, forgive them.”

In Matthew 5:7, our Lord’s desire is that we practice the mercy which has been extended toward us. It may affect the level of compassion and sympathy you feel for others. Your ability to respond to the needs or cries of others. It may affect the harshness with which you judge the actions and motives of others. Your ability to show acts of kindness and gentleness to others. Your ability to stand for the truth and promote righteousness without destroying people in the process. Mercy truly demands a level of faith that not everyone is able to practice.

-John Garza