Otavio Costa writes from Brazil.

I. Introduction

The parable of the unmerciful servant illustrates in reverse the truth of this beatitude. To the debtor to whom the king would have forgiven all of his enormous debt, had he in turn been willing to forgive his fellow-servant a paltry sum, the king said, "I forgave thee all that debt, because thou besoughtest me; shouldest not thou also have had mercy on thy fellow-servant, even as I had mercy on thee?"(Matt. 18:32b-33).

"As I had mercy on thee" that is the moral of this parable; and in substance it may be phrased like this: "Woe unto the unmerciful: for they have not, nor can they receive the mercy of God." This is the exact reverse of our beatitude: "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." This self-acting law of the moral realm never fails, and from which there is no appeal. This is an absolute in the kingdom of God. If God's mercy does not awaken in our hearts some sense of mercy towards our fellowman, let no one deceive himself into thinking that he has received God's mercy; he hasn't.

"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." Three things demand our attention about this beatitude. Each can be stated in one word.

II. Mercy Explanation

Remember: In these beatitudes Jesus is not speaking of seven different individuals; rather He is describing seven qualities of excellence He desires in one man. But before Jesus commended these qualities to others, He exhibited them Himself. His own life is the best commentary on them. In Him all of the strength and tenderness, all of the patience, long-suffering, and compassion, all of the love of a God of love was illustrated before men's eyes in His gracious life for our example and in His atoning death for our redemption.

A. Christ was long-suffering with error, patient with failure, and kind with stupidity.

How thankful we ought to be for that. He was gracious and generous in His appraisal of men who were sincere. Andrew brought Simon, his brother, to Jesus. Looking past the rough qualities, the impetuousness of that man as he was, Jesus spoke of him as he would become: "Thou art Simon the son of John: thou shalt be called Cephas (which is by interpretation, Peter)" (John l:42b).

B. Christ was forgiving in spirit toward those who wronged Him and sinned against Him.

His great love for the sinner overflowed in free pardon and forgiveness. On the cross He prayed for forgiveness for those who crucified Him, pleading, "They know not what they do."(Luke23:34b).

He had mercy on the sick, the halt, the lame, the blind. His word to His followers is: "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons: freely ye received, freely give"(Matt. 10:8) Mercy is Christlikeness. A view of the goodness and mercy of God will lead to repentance. There will be a desire to possess the same spirit. He who receives this spirit will have discernment to see the good there is in the character of others, and will love those who need the tender, pitying sympathy of forgiveness. He sees in Christ a sin-pardoning Saviour, and contemplates with hope and confidence the pardon written over against his sins. He wants the same work to be done for his associates also. True faith brings the soul into sympathy with God. He who possesses the spirit of Christ will never be weary of forgiving. EGW., The Home Missionary, "Treatment of the Erring," pr. 17.

III. Mercy's Demonstration

A. If we are merciful as Christ was merciful, we will exhibit the generosity of His judgments of others. Like Christ, we will search for the best, not the worst, in our fellow-man. Like our Master, we will be slow to condemn and quick to commend our brother, and this not out of a sense of duty, but as the natural expression of a loving heart.

B. If we are merciful, as Christ was merciful, we will exhibit His spirit of forgiveness. We will be forgiving in spirit, refusing to hold a grudge, casting hate by the Spirit's power out of our hearts, blessing those who curse us, and praying for those who persecute us. How we need the compassion of Christ to flood our unfeeling hearts to send us out to give, forgive, and serve for His sake.

C. If we are merciful, as Christ was merciful, we will give ourselves for a world's need as He did. Is there any spark of His love for a lost and dying world in our hearts? Are there any of the tender mercies and compassion of Christ in s at all? Mercy is to have its demonstration in the minds and hearts and deeds of those who have received God's mercy and grace freely shed abroad in their hearts.

IV. Mercy's Benediction

"Blessed are the merciful." What is the benediction pronounced upon the merciful? ... for they shall obtain mercy." The blessing upon the merciful person is that he shall receive in the same manner as that in which he gives. This is a self-acting law of the moral realm. It never fails. "They shall obtain mercy." The certainty of that blessing is based on the reciprocal law of life that Jesus stated so often, a law more dependable than the law of gravity.

As we give, we get. As we sow, we reap. But in an infinitely higher sense this holds true. As between God and man, the merciful obtain mercy.

A. To be like Christ in His judgments is to claim this blessing. To be gracious, generous, seeking and thinking the best what if we are like that in our judgments? Jesus says, "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measures unto you"(Matt. 7:2). James tells us, "For judgment is without mercy to him that showeth no mercy: mercy glorieth against judgment"(2:13).

B. To be like Christ in His forgiving spirit is to claim this blessing. To have an unforgiving spirit is to forfeit the same. Jesus tells us, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, you heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive no men their trespasses, neither will you Father forgive you trespasses" (Matt. 6:14-15). One of the petitions of the Model Prayer is: "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors"(6:12). The unforgiving heart cannot receive forgiveness, nor the unmerciful, mercy.

C. To be like Christ in deeds of compassion is to claim the blessing. In the story of the Good Samaritan Jesus answered the question, "Who is my neighbor?" When He had completed the story and asked, "Which of these three, thinkest thou, proved neighbor unto him that fell among the robbers?" His questioner was compelled to reply, "He that showed mercy on him" (Luke 10:36-37).

V. Conclusion

In that picture of judgment in Matthew 25, to whom did Jesus say, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (v. 34b)? He said this to those who had exhibited mercy in their lives. To whom did He say, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire" (v. 41)? He said this to those who showed no mercy.

Illustration: The Mercy of God

When a former mayor of New York befriended a poor, dejected outcast of society, he was reproved by the prosecuting attorney who said, "That tramp's no good. He's getting only what he deserves." hearing this, the judge interrupted the harsh counselor by asking with a smile, "Did you ever hear of the mother who visited Napoleon on behalf of her condemned son? The emperor told her the young man had committed the same offense twice, and justice demanded the death penalty. 'But Sire,' she pleaded, 'I don't ask for justice only for mercy.' 'He doesn't deserve it,' said Napoleon. 'No, he doesn't,' she admitted, 'but it would not be mercy if he deserved it."You're right!' said the ruler quickly, Til grant your request and show him mercy!'" TS.

Otavio Costa writes from Brazil.