july 8

Blessed are the Merciful

By: Pastor Dennis Yim

Key Passage- Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

The Christian life is one that is a constant reminder of our once hopeless and sinful state that has

been delivered by God’s grace and mercy in Christ – it’s strange, we’re forgiven but we continue

to long for God’s forgiveness. But the reality is that we fail daily. Therefore, we must receive

God’s grace and mercy daily. However, there’s been a movement – for a while now – that wants

to ignore our failures, that wants to be oblivious of our need for mercy, and that wants to be

foolishly and naively optimistic – I’m not speaking a movement that’s outside of the Church, but

rather within the Church. For a while now, the naïve optimistic Christianity has had a stronghold

on the church; men like C.S Lewis have been extremely critical of it. However, the answer to

dealing with this naivety is God’s mercy. Naivety does not lead to compassion, it does not lead

us to moving towards the poor, broken hearted, the marginalized, nor the ones that the Church

has deemed to be damned. Naivety leads to shallow, artificial compassion that is not compassion

at all, but instead is something more heinous and wicked.

What is God’s mercy? Mercy is compassion for the needy and helpless. D.A Carson explains it

another way: …mercy is a loving response prompted by the misery and helplessness of the one

on whom the love is to be showered…mercy answers to the miserable. Mercy, then, propels us to

be compassionate to the miserable and helpless. That doesn’t mean that we are to be these

foolish naïve optimists when we move towards them; those who are in misery or suffering can

see through the shallowness of our fake optimistic words that have no real substance or weight of

God’s promises of shalom and glory. Rather, to be merciful means that we move towards the

miserable and helpless and help them to see and admit that they need the mercy of God. We

cannot force someone to acknowledge such need; guilt-tripping doesn’t work (trust me, it

doesn’t; we’ve lost a whole generation because of it), if anything it does more harm than good.

So, the best approach would be to mercifully talk to the person, help them to move through the

valley of darkness, help them to see God’s grace in the midst of their misery, and then help them

to see that the grace that God shines upon them reveals their great need of His mercy. For many,

what they will recognize is that God’s mercy is His forgiveness. Forgiveness is otherworldly.

The miserable and helpless person will realize that he/she is simultaneously forgiven and is in a

constant state of needing forgiveness. So, the one who is merciful is the one who has received

God’s forgiveness. The hope and prayer is that the person who has received God’s mercy would

be merciful towards those who are in misery and need around them.

In order to participate in this, we must ask God to give us His mercy daily. That means we,

ourselves, need to be real with our own misery and helplessness. We need to be critical realists,

not naïve optimist. We need God to give us grace so that we can ask ourselves the hard

questions, to deal with the harsh realities of our personal and secret sins. In turn, as we wrestle

with these things, God will bless us with His mercy so that we may be merciful to others. C. S

Lewis summarizes this beatitude for us: To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable

because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. (C.S Lewis)