“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
In the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12), Jesus outlined eight circumstances of blessedness for believers, including mercy in the fifth Beatitude above.
“Mercy me!” Perhaps you have heard this exclamation from an older relative. This dated idiom is a “shorthand” version of the prayer, “Lord, have mercy on me.” Referred to as the “Jesus Prayer,” similar words have been used for centuries in Eastern Orthodox and Catholic traditions as people have prayed, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
Mercy is a defining trait of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are kind, compassionate, forgiving; they are merciful. We are assured in Psalm 103:8, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” God’s love for us amplifies his mercy, according to Lamentations 3:22-23. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is [God’s] faithfulness.”
The writer of Hebrews (4:16), recognizing God’s unfailing love, counsels, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace . . . .” We also pray with King David in Psalm 51:1-2: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sins!”
Our sins are forgiven when we repent and accept the gift of salvation through Jesus’ redemptive death and resurrection. The Apostle Paul explains, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved . . . .” (Ephesians 2:4-5)
Anchored in mercy, we are expected to extend mercy to others. Jesus states: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. . . . For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:36-38)
Father God, we accept your work of mercy and salvation’s grace through Jesus, our Savior. Help us be merciful in serving others—and act justly and walk humbly in service. We gratefully proclaim David’s words, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6) Amen.
Kay Henry is a columnist for the Claremore Progress. All Bible quotations are from “The Holy Bible, English Standard Version” (ESV), unless otherwise noted.