The certainty of divine recompense releases believers to exercise mercy towards others
Matthew 5:3-11 The certainty of divine recompense releases believers to exercise mercy towards others
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the gentle (meek), for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus teaches that the merciful are blessed in that they shall receive bountiful mercies from God. This teaching is again phrased in a cause and effect format: the acts of the merciful shall be remembered and returned to them in multiple folds of blessings. In exercising mercy towards their opposers, they receive bountiful mercies from God. Mercy is expressed in the qualities of sympathy and compassion towards others. In today’s devotion, we learn that the certainty of divine justice releases us to forgive and to exercise mercy towards others. And God is using the merciful to bring comfort to those who are unjustly treated.
“Blessed are the merciful,..
To be merciful (elemon in Greek) is to be sympathetic. To be sympathetic is to be patient, sensitive, and unassuming.
- He treats people with forbearance. He is patient towards those who are less gifted and exalts them. To the less refined, he makes special effort to guide and to coach. And to those who comes from rough backgrounds, he grants ample space to make mistakes.
- He respects people’s feelings. Especially those who are broken, he deals gently and speaks kindly to them. He also knows how to handle people who are distraught, with great skill he reassures them.
- He does not judge another hastily. He does not arrive at a conclusion based on the initial impression of a person’s appearance or demeanour. He judges with clemency taking into consideration human struggles and weaknesses.
A merciful person is also compassionate, which is to grant assistance to others with alacrity and without prejudice.
- His compassion is not emotive but with conviction and truth, counting the cost in giving aid.
- He treats every person consistently; He does not offer assistance only to those who is able to return the favour. He gives credit to those who are unnoticed, who works in the background.
However, to whom shall we be merciful towards? Towards those…
- whose convictions are different; be it moral, theological, and political, cultural and how one see things in general,
- of different social circle, race, social status and nationality,
- with different moral backgrounds,
- who have hurt us without a cause.
… for they shall receive mercy.
God has established this unchanging principle that the givers of mercy shall receive for themselves bountiful mercies from God. Jesus, in asking God to forgive His tormentors receives mercy through His resurrection and appointment to the highest station in the universe. Thus, Jesus calls all His followers to do as He does: to be merciful so that they may receive divine mercy. This divine mercy includes forgiveness of sins, blessings for this life as well as eternal glory in heaven.
Having said, the source of all mercies is none other than God who possesses the power to grant it to whomever He wishes. The blessing and mercy of God is shown through Jesus by which the sins of the world are forgiven. The psalmist says,
“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity.” Psalms 32:1-2.
Hence, those who have received this blessing of forgiveness shall likewise be merciful towards others. By forgiving others of their sins, we show ourselves as true recipients of God’s forgiveness. In doing so, we become legitimate possessors of God’s eternal mercies and manifold blessings.
The evidence of forgiveness within is a heart that keeps forgiving.
People cannot forgive because they have never perceived themselves as having sinned against God or others and thus, worthy of punishment. Such are blinded by self-righteousness and have never been brought to task for their own wrongdoings. Because they have never experienced mercy, they are not able to exercise mercy towards others. Yet some have indeed acknowledged their wrongdoings, and have indeed received forgiveness and tasted mercy. However, they fail to repent, and becoming wicked and greedy they relentlessly pursue those who are indebted to them.
Being merciful is a matter of the heart. One who has received eternal mercy and forgiveness from God is forever bound to exercise eternal mercy towards others. A heart of mercy is the evidence of God’s forgiveness and eternal life within us; it is a heart that keeps forgiving. Peter asks Jesus,
“Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22
By seventy times seven Jesus teaches about a heart that keeps forgiving. Considering the multitude of our own sins, and the certainty of eternal destruction… If God can look pass our sins and grant us eternal life, can we not forgive those who cause us temporal inconveniences and losses. Jesus adds, “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:35.
The certainty of divine recompense releases believers to forgive and to exercise mercy towards others.
Some people could not forgive because they supposed that if a wrongdoing is forgiven, justice will never be served. It is understandable if such are non-believers, as they may not believe in eternal destruction and have never tasted the forgiveness of God. The fact that Jesus has taken upon Himself the sins of the world is in itself a grave injustice for God; what is injustice for Jesus has become for sinners eternal mercies. And if sinners receive an eternal forgiveness that is unjustly obtained, why should sinners demand justice from another.
Having said, if Jesus suffer grave injustice that results in forgiveness for humanity, it follows that only Jesus possesses the right to execute justice for all. Therefore, the moment we receive forgiveness from God, we lose the right to demand justice from another. Nevertheless, God promises swift justice and recompense for all on the day of judgment. The apostle Paul says,
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10
Jesus’s work on the cross takes away divine condemnation, but it does not take away the recompense due to what he has done, whether good or bad. Jesus says concerning recompense when Jesus judges on His glorious throne… and many who are first will be last; and the last, first (see Matthew 19:30). Concerning recompense, Paul teaches that every man’s work will be tested on the day of judgment:
If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:14-15
Therefore, let us be rest assured of the day and wait patiently for it. Indeed, the certainty of divine justice and recompense releases us to forgive and to exercise mercy towards others. Having said, it does not mean that believers should subject themselves to the abuse of the wicked. Believers must actively defend our rights and defend the helpless through God ordained channels. The spirit of forgiveness and mercy does not contradict the believer’s mission to establish justice, mercy and righteousness in every community. It reinforces the spirit of righteous governance that all things be done justly and mercifully. And all believers must be encouraged to aspire to higher office so that they may establish laws and policies that work towards the righteousness of God.
Are you fixated on justice and always quibbling whether people or yourself have been treated fairly? Do you harbour an expectation that God, if He is good should not allow injustice to happen? One who is fixated on justice is one whose soul is constantly aggrieved. Perhaps, the injustices that you have experienced in the past (or are experiencing now) has affected your perception of God. For the sake of mercy, God has sent you into the world to provide reprieve and comfort to those who are unjustly treated. You as a disciple of Christ are God’s answer to a fairer and kinder humanity. Instead of being frustrated by incidents of injustice, focus your energy on how you can exercise mercy towards those who are in distress. The apostle James says, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27.
Dear Lord, I thank you that you in due time will vindicate the innocent. Create in me a heart of mercy as I have received eternal mercies from you. I am willing to forgive the debts of those who has taken from me. Restore me in your mercies so that I may be whole again. Use me as a channel of mercy to those who are in distress. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.