Intentional Mercy

Journal Entry // February 15, 2023

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. (ESV)

Matthew 5:7

In this review of the Beatitudes, Jesus has now come to the life expressions that flow from a heart that is truly hungering and thirsting for the righteousness that is found only in Christ.  The first expression of this satisfied heart is mercy. The blessed are those that give mercy to others. Yet, it means a bit more than the mere notion that I am only to show mercy at certain moments in life or at critical public junctions. At a minimum, it means that when the public opportunity arises for mercy to be displayed that I show mercy. It also means that in those private one-on-one moments where opportunities arise for mercy to be displayed that I show mercy. But to be merciful, true Christ-like mercy, is to have a heart full of mercy. Being merciful is not just showing mercy at random moments of injustice in life. Being merciful is living each and every moment with merciful intention. A heart beating in rhythm with my Savior is one that overflows with mercy for everyone, including myself.

Being merciful describes a changed heart and truly we do have a changed heart if we are seeking the righteousness of Christ and are satisfied. For the heart of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, is merciful to the core. If we are changed and we are embracing the righteousness of Christ, then we will be full of mercy. We will be overflowing with mercy. This overflow should impact each and every relationship we have. Every person we come into contact with should be overwhelmed by the mercy they receive. Being merciful is simply reflecting Jesus in my life. I am reaching out to those who are poor and downtrodden, those that are abrasive and unkind, those that intimidate me, those who disagree with me, those that are in sin, those that are full of hatred, and those that seek my harm. Jesus showed grace and mercy to all of these in his life and wants the same from me.

This calls for a life-altering way of thinking. Being merciful begins in my heart and mind. This inner realm of my thoughts is where I begin to withhold mercy from others. My critical heart sees jealousy and pride rise up and my thoughts begin to accuse others and bring them down. My thoughts can criticize and demean a person. This brings about bitterness and anger within me. Yet, this bitterness and anger don’t stay contained in my heart it begins to seep out in my speech and actions, where mercy becomes the one thing I have no intention of showing. My heart is the incubator of mercy in my life. My merciful thoughts breed more merciful thoughts leading to compassion. And compassion and mercy then seep into my words and actions bringing blessing to those around me.

The merciful are not merciful because they have reached a level of purity or righteousness in their life that mimics Christ. No, the merciful have the actual righteousness of Christ in their heart. They are reminded at all times that they are undeserving of the mercy of Christ and yet Christ has shown them mercy. The merciful are full of mercy because they have themselves received mercy to the fullest. They are so full of the mercy of Christ that their thoughts dwell on the richness and kindness of Christ’s love for them. The merciful live and breathe every moment in humility before their Savior, realizing they are in desperate need of his mercy every moment. In this heart attitude, the merciful are able to think merciful thoughts about their enemies.

The merciful know and understand that we all, each and every one of us, need mercy. We need mercy from our Savior, but we also need mercy from each other. This life is full of hardship and disappointment. People will let us down. People will be unkind. People will be harsh and cruel. People will be neglectful. The merciful understand that they are these people as well. The merciful give and receive mercy freely because they receive the greatest mercy of all through Jesus. And having received this great and wonderful mercy, the merciful live life through this mercy. As they abide in Christ, he abides in them. Strengthening and enabling them to go forth in this world in meekness and mercy.

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