Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
Christians, as a general rule, don’t believe in karma. At first glance you might think this is a type of karma-like teaching: If we’re merciful then mercy will come back around to us. However, when we look at the all the scriptures, we might see it translated a bit differently. “Those who have been shown mercy and know it, will be merciful.”
Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, asks Jesus in Matthew 18, “Lord how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” (verse 21 ESV). Peter goes on to suggest 7 times, much more than the 2 times that was suggested by the religious leaders of the day (Peter is trying to impress Jesus here). However, Jesus comes back and pretty much says, always forgive. He then gives a short story about a man who was so in debt to a king that it would have been impossible for him to pay it back (Matthew 18:23-26). The servant begged for mercy and the king grants it (v27). However, that same servant coming across a fellow servant who owed him a few hundred dollars. The other servant begs for mercy but the servant does not grant it but throws him in jail (v28-30).
It’s a pretty brutal responses if you ask me. The first servant is spared jail time even though he owes a much larger debt. However, he leaves that scenario completely forgetting what has just happened to him. Does he not understand? Is he just that cruel? Or has the point missed him altogether that he should live differently having been spared judgement?
The story ends with the master scolding him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” (v32-33). The master throws the servant into jail and Jesus warns us, if we lack mercy even though we have been shown great mercy, the king may rescind the offer previously given to us. Only those who live in light of the mercy they’ve been given, recognizing it for what it is, will live differently, being merciful to others.
This type of story (called parables in the bible) illustrates for us the great mercy God had on us when we came to rely on Jesus to save us. We had an incredible debt against the master (because we rejected him and instead chased after other comforts and valuable things instead of treasuring Him) and He was gracious and loving enough to forgive us. Therefore, when someone has wronged us, compared to our debt to God, the sin is very small. Should we not be much more forgiving because of what God has already done for us?
We are to live in light of that mercy and live mercifully. And it’s here where we come back to the beatitude, where the merciful will be shown mercy because the merciful live understanding how great God’s mercy was for them. When we forgive and show mercy, we are being children of God. We are being God-like as we imitate our Heavenly Father. We have this great gift of mercy having now a right relationship with God. So, in light of that, can we go to be merciful to our family, friends, neighbors and coworkers inviting all people into a gospel conversation because we ourselves were invited in and shown a great mercy?
I hope we can. I hope we live our lives in light of the mercy that has been shown to us so we might be merciful and loving to those around us!
So, Go! And show mercy to those around you, inviting others into a gospel conversation!
Parkland Community Church:
We Exist to Develop People Who Love Jesus and Serve Others.