Every Day Light
Most misunderstood Beatitude
"Give, and it will be given to you '" (v. 38)
For reading & meditation:
The fifth Beatitude - "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" - is quite different from the ones that precede it. In the first four, there is a contrast between the need and the fulfilment. The "poor in spirit" receive the kingdom; those "who mourn" are comforted; "the meek" inherit the earth; those who "hunger and thirst" are satisfied; but in the fifth Beatitude the theme changes: "the merciful will be shown mercy". It is as though we cannot receive mercy without first giving it. We must move carefully here, for no Beatitude has been more misunderstood than this one. There are those who take these words to mean that we can only be forgiven by God to the extent that we forgive others. They bring alongside this Beatitude such passages as: "Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us" (Luke 11:4), and "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart" (Matt. 18:35). Putting all these Scriptures together, they claim that it is the clear meaning of the Bible that we are forgiven by God only to the degree that we forgive others. If this is so, then salvation is by works and not by grace. We must never interpret Scripture in a way that contradicts other Scriptures. What our Lord means in this fifth Beatitude is that when we demonstrate mercy to others, we make it possible for God's mercy to penetrate deeper into our own lives and personalities. The act of giving makes us more able to receive.
O Father, help me not to stumble over this truth. Show me that although my forgiveness of others is not a condition of salvation, it must be a consequence of it. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
Come to http://www.cwr.org.uk for more inspirational devotions by Selwyn Hughes.