‘‘Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.’’ Matt. 5:7
Additional reading: Luke 6:36; Rom. 12:8; Jas. 3:17
It is very interesting and instructive to know that obedience to God’s words or commands attracts huge blessings. Little wonder, Jesus never stopped emphasizing this as He took the people through His Sermon on the Mount. The truth of the matter is; whatever character we exhibit as Christians, comes with either a blessing or its exact opposite.
In this matter, Jesus said: ‘‘Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.’’ In short, He said that if any believer shows mercy, that believer will get mercy in return. However, what does it mean to be merciful?
‘‘Blessed are the merciful [eleemon … compassionate (actively)]: for they shall obtain mercy.’’ To get this clearer, we also need to know what exactly it means to show compassion or be compassionate. To have compassion means to show sympathy for the suffering of others, often including desire to help. The crux of the matter here is; every Christian should make it a lifestyle to show compassion—have sympathy for the suffering of others—be willing to help those in need. Anyone who does this should be rest assured that he will have compassion waiting for him at his doorpost. Please read this: ‘‘You’re blessed when you care. At the point of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.’’ (MSG.)
This translation of the Bible has brought out a very crucial issue. Do Christians really care about the needy? How much of our time and resources have we devoted to help those in needs? Do we overlook our physical responsibilities in the name of rendering service to God?
This attribute of Christians as required by our Master is one major standard for judgement as pointed out by Jesus Christ in Matthew 25. The picture drawn here is that of judgement and reward of all people at the end of this age. On that day according to Scriptures, everyone will be rewarded or punished according to the measure of mercy—compassion—help—kindness shown or not shown to those in needs.
Jesus said that on that day, He would gather the peoples of the earth together before Him and separate them—the sheep, i.e. the obedient ones on His right and the goats, i.e. the disobedient and stubborn ones to His left. Having done this, the Kingdom will then be given to the sheep while the goats will be cast out.
Why will He do that or what will be His standard of measure? Now hear Him: ‘‘When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me.’’ (Vv. 35 – 36 CEV.) In total shock, those who had done God’s will, will demand to know when they showed so much care and compassion to Jesus Christ. Jesus will simply say, ‘‘Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it to me.’’ (V. 40) On the contrary, the goats will simply be cast out for not showing compassion to the needy.
This event pictures the state of the Church today. Most of our giving is directed not at individuals but more at Church projects and functions with the mindset that such funds will be better appreciated by God. If we give and the pastor in charge takes notice of you, be rest assured that you will be recognised. But this is not the kind of giving that pleases God. The giving that pleases Him is that which Jesus described above and the one the LORD sees in secret.
Assuming you meet a needy stranger on your way to Church on a Sunday morning and there in your pocket or purse is an amount you have kept aside for offering. Will you insist on taking that money to Church to put in the offering box or you will spare it on account of that stranger? Please be honest.
The book of Matthew records 6 instances where the word compassion was used. Four directly involved Jesus showing compassion—pity or sympathy on the hungry, sick, etc, and 2 involving a master and his servant. The book of Mark records 5 while Luke records 3. For any Christian to be able to affect lives, he must be as Jesus was while on earth—demonstrate compassion—that feeling of pity or sympathy towards the needy that makes one gives his heart out.
This passage will help us understand God’s view point on this: ‘‘If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen.’’ (1John 4:20 GNB.) If this passage is true, it makes no sense (human or spiritual) saying one is keeping a certain amount of money to take to Church as offering while a brother or a total stranger is in need. Jesus will say on the last day that as long as we kept that money from that needy person, we kept it from Him, even though it was put in the offering box.
Therefore, for us to obtain mercy (compassion) in the sight of God and man, we must show ourselves to be merciful (compassionate). This is my evidence: ‘‘…Give to others, and you will receive. You will be given much. It will be poured into your hands—more than you can hold. You will be given so much that it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you.’’ (Luke 6: 38 ERV.)
This passage has been used severally to encourage believers to give to God. Sadly though, this passage has no bearing with giving to God directly. It simply talks about giving to those in needs (as many people as possible), and then God will in turn give His blessings beyond measure. This is actually the indirect way to give God.
When the Church of Jesus Christ comes to recognise that there is great gain in giving, and not only in giving directly to God as we may think, but in giving to those in needs, our attitude about giving to others will change because when we give to those that need, we are actually giving to God as Jesus said. This kind of giving, no doubt stares up heaven.
This is the conclusion: ‘‘Give to everyone who asks you for something. When someone takes something that is yours, don’t ask for it back. Do for others what you want them to do for you. If you love only those who love you, should you get any special praise for doing that? No, even sinners love those who love them!’’ (Luke 6: 30 – 32 ERV.)
Meditation: How do I give? Do I need to change my attitude towards giving?
Prayer: I thought I was giving but now I realise that I was not giving. Guide me along Your path in this matter that I may do Your will.
Question: (1.) Who is a merciful Christian? (2.) What is God’s perspective of giving?