In this sermon, Youth Director Mike Bittenbender preaches on the Fifth Beatitude–Showing mercy. For whoever is merciful shall obtain mercy. Here are some excerpts:
John Wesley is famously quoted, and I am sure Pastor Neil has used this quote before, as saying, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, to all the people you can, at all the times you can, as long as ever you can.”
The fourth and last mark is: “If I’m merciful, I will do good to my enemies.” This drives people crazy. The world says to get even. When we have been wronged, or are being attacked, get right back at those people. Jesus says nope, that’s not My way. Luke 6, starting at verse 32, says:
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Being merciful is not the means for salvation. We are not merciful in an attempt to gain salvation. We are merciful because we have experienced mercy from our Creator, the author of salvation. Even before we are merciful, we have received mercy. Even before we take our first breath, we have received mercy. Romans 9:16 says: “It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” The man Jesus calls to be merciful in Matthew 5 has already received the mercy he is being called on to share. We are merciful because Jesus commands us to be and it comes from an overflow from the heart of the mercy we have received from our Father.
We demonstrate mercy with kindness to those in need. The truly merciful are considerate of those who are poor. We demonstrate mercy with compassion for mourners. We demonstrate mercy with full forgiveness. Spurgeon recounts a story of a certain governor of Georgia, “in Mr. Wesley’s day, said that he would have his servant on board his vessels flogged for drinking his wine.” When Mr. Wesley entreated that the man might be pardoned on that occasion, the governor said, “It is no use, Mr. Wesley. You know, sir, I never forgive.”
“Well then, sir,” said Mr. Wesley, “I hope you know that you will never be forgiven, or else I hope that you have never sinned.” We also demonstrate mercy when we show great mercy to great sinners, and finally we must show mercy to the souls of all men. We must anxiously long for the souls of all mankind to be brought to a saving faith in Jesus. We must work with everything that is in us, to reach out to the lost souls around us, showing them the mercy that has been shown to us. That they may walk in a life of faith, saved by grace.
How is God calling you, in your life, in your abilities, to show mercy to others and delight in doing so? The promise for doing so, is that we will be shown mercy. As we saw in James, if we do not show mercy, mercy will not be shown to us. Mercy is the better option. If anyone pleas for anything but mercy, justice and judgment await. And if you are like me, a great sinner, our just reward is death. So as is commonly seen in the gospel as people plead with Jesus, join me in asking the Lord, “Lord, have mercy on me.”