Every Day Light
The meaning of mercy
"Mercy and truth are met together '" (v. 10, AV)
For reading & meditation:
We continue our study of the Beatitudes - the study of Jesus' declarations of how to become "the happy ones". Today we come to the fifth of Christ's famous sayings: "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" (Matt. 5:7). What does our Lord mean when He uses the word "merciful"? The thought underlying the word is that of compassion and concern for the plight of others. The Greek word used in this fifth Beatitude is also used to describe the high priestly ministry of Christ in Hebrews 2:17. One authority, W.E. Vine, says that a "merciful" person is "not simply possessed of pity but actively compassionate". It is important to stress once again that the characteristic of being merciful of which our Lord spoke here is not something that arises from our natural temperament, but something that is endowed on us when we abide in Christ. As Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones said: "This is not a gospel for certain temperaments - nobody has an advantage over anybody else when they are face to face with God." Again, mercy is not turning a blind eye to moral violations - the attitude that pretends not to see things. This can be seen most forcefully when we consider that the term "merciful" is an adjective which is applied especially and specifically to God Himself. This means that however the word applies to God, it applies equally to man. God is merciful, but He is also truth: "Mercy and truth are met together." If we think of mercy at the expense of truth and law, then it is not true mercy; it is merely a caricature.
O God, help me, I pray, to have within me the right blend of mercy and truth. Save me from becoming a lopsided Christian - someone who manifests one characteristic at the expense of another. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
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