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)