The merciful - The word mercy, among the Jews, signified two things: the pardon of injuries, and almsgiving. Our Lord undoubtedly takes it in its fullest latitude here. To know the nature of mercy, we have only to consult the grammatical meaning of the Latin word misericordia, from which ours is derived. It is composed of two words: miserans, pitying, and cor, the heart; or miseria cordis, pain of heart. Mercy supposes two things:
This virtue, therefore, is no other than a lively emotion of the heart, which is excited by the discovery of any creature's misery; and such an emotion as manifests itself outwardly, by effects suited to its nature. The merciful man is here termed by our Lord ελεημων, from ελεος, which is generally derived from the Hebrew חיל chil, to be in pain, as a woman in travail: or from ילל galal, to cry, or lament grievously; because a merciful man enters into the miseries of his neighbor, feels for and mourns with him.
They shall obtain mercy - Mercy is not purchased but at the price of mercy itself; and even this price is a gift of the mercy of God. What mercy can those vindictive persons expect, who forgive nothing, and are always ready to improve every advantage they have of avenging themselves? Whatever mercy a man shows to another, God will take care to show the same to him. The following elegant and nervous saying of one of our best poets is worthy of the reader's most serious attention: -
"The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed;
It blesseth him who gives, and him who takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's,
When mercy seasons justice. -
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. -
Why, all the souls that are, were forfeit once:
And he who might the 'vantage best have took
Found out the remedy. How would you be,
If He who is the top of judgment should
But judge you as you are? O! think on that;
And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man, new made
How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend'ring none?"
In the tract Shabbath, fol. 151, there is a saying very like this of our Lord.
"He who shows mercy to men, God will show mercy to him: but to him who shows no mercy to man, God will show no mercy.
Blessed are the merciful - That is, those who are so affected by the sufferings of others as to be disposed to alleviate them. This is given as an evidence of piety, and it is said that they who show mercy to others shall obtain it. The same sentiment is found in Matthew 10:42; “Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you he shall in no wise lose his reward.” See also Matthew 25:34-40. This should be done with a wish to glorify God; that is, in obedience to his commandments, and with a desire that he should be honored, and with a feeling that we are benefiting one of his creatures. Then he will regard it as done to him, and will reward us. See the sentiment of this verse, that the merciful shall obtain mercy, more fully expressed in 2 Samuel 22:26-27; and in Psalm 18:25-26.
Nowhere do we imitate God more than in showing mercy. In nothing does God delight more than in the exercise of mercy, Exodus 34:6; Ezekiel 33:11; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9. To us, guilty sinners; to us, wretched, dying, and exposed to eternal woe, he has shown his mercy by giving his Son to die for us; by expressing his willingness to pardon and save us; and by sending his Spirit to renew and sanctify our hearts. Each day of our life, each hour, and each moment, we partake of his undeserved mercy. All the blessings we enjoy are proofs of his mercy. If we, then, show mercy to the poor, the wretched, the guilty, it shows that we are like God. We have his spirit, and shall not lose our reward. And we have abundant opportunity to do it. Our world is full of guilt and woe, which we may help to relieve; and every day of our lives we have opportunity, by helping the poor and wretched, and by forgiving those who injure us, to show that we are like God. See the notes at Matthew 6:14-15.
Seek to help, to strengthen, to bless those with whom you are associated. The Lord will be merciful to those who are merciful. The Lord will be tender and pitiful to those who exercise tenderness and compassion and pity for others. We must realize that we are in Christ's school, not to learn how we may esteem ourselves, how we shall conduct ourselves so as to receive honor of men, but how we may cherish the meekness of Christ. Self and selfishness will be ever striving for the mastery. It is a fight we must have with ourselves, that self shall not have the victory. Through Christ you may triumph; through Christ you may conquer. OHC 184.6Read in context »
May the Lord give us tender hearts, hearts of flesh, not hearts of steel. Remember that as you judge, so you will be judged. To those who show mercy, God will show mercy. Remember that to you has been given the privilege of helping Christ in the person of His saints. When you use this privilege aright, you are giving glory to the Saviour. Your work will bring you rich returns.—Manuscript 81, 1901. PM 94.4Read in context »