More than Forgiveness

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” - Matthew 5:7 

If I’m being honest, I don’t know how many times I’ve read the beatitudes over and over again without even stopping to think about what each one means. I know they are important because it’s part of the truth that Jesus shares to the people, but it was so easy for me to gloss over them because it’s something I’ve heard so many times. I mean some are pretty straightforward, but when I stop to think about the other verses, I realize I definitely need to take more time and thought to digest these verses. Matthew 5:7 was a specific one that took more time for me. I mean what does Jesus even mean by merciful. Logistically, it makes sense that a person who shows mercy is considered merciful and because mercy is usually associated with forgiveness, one could assume that a person who shows forgiveness is merciful. While I think that is true, I don’t think that’s all Jesus meant by this verse. 

For one, mercy is more than just forgiveness. We see that when David asks God for mercy after his sin with Bathsheba. 

"Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin."

- Psalm 51:1-2

In these verses, David is acknowledging he did something wrong and asking for God’s mercy. However, we can see that mercy isn’t just choosing to forgive, but it’s cleansing of sins. It also emphasizes God’s mercy comes from unfailing love and compassion. God has the authority to simply wash away David’s sin and He does so. It is important to note that God does so not because David is a good guy and deserves it, but because He is a merciful God full of unfailing love and compassion for us. He abundantly chooses to cleanse us because that’s the character of God. Now this doesn’t give us a free ticket to keep on sinning, but it shows us that because God shows mercy, we are able to show mercy to others, too. 

Ultimately, because our God is a merciful God, we get to choose to be merciful people. Thank goodness for mercy because, without mercy, I don’t think we’d be here today. As Jesus showed us the ultimate act of mercy by dying on the cross for our sins. He showed us compassion as he chose to sacrifice Himself for us. 

However, the way we show mercy looks different from how God shows mercy because of course, for us, mercy doesn’t mean we are dying on the cross and are cleansing the other person's sins. Simply because that’s not our job, but it does mean that we choose not to hold grudges or seek revenge. We probably all know what it means to not hold a grudge, but to me, this means not continuously bringing up something someone did wrong maybe more than one time. It also means not using it to judge a person for a mistake that might’ve happened. This is definitely something easier said than done because we all try to protect ourselves after getting hurt, but we get to become merciful people because of who God is and who He made us to be. I mean thank goodness God doesn’t hold grudges or seek revenge for the sins we committed. Another thing to remember is that showing mercy doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting, but it means choosing to let go of the blame and choosing to trust God will seek justice for you. 

Practically, to be a merciful person looks different for each person, but it does help to know what mercy means. Based on what I know, I define mercy as the act of showing compassion through love and humility. By being merciful people, we are able to love our neighbors the way God intended us to. We are also able to show compassion to every person, especially to those who have hurt us because that’s what Jesus did when lived on Earth. 

Without knowing it, you probably have shown mercy multiple times this week as being merciful can look like choosing to put ourselves in the position of those who hurt us, but we are also merciful by gently correcting someone out of love instead of pride or by choosing to be grateful rather than complaining about the situation. As you can see, showing mercy doesn’t have to be hard, but it does take a lot to be a person who is merciful.

Author | Ellyzsa Valencia

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