Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
In this blessing, Jesus expands his focus to include our relationship with other people. Whenever we are offended, our natural impulse is to pursue justice. Justice is the ordering of life whereby each person is treated fairly. Justice is indeed a characteristic of God, as God shows no favoritism. Still, because we are fallen creatures, we can easily use the idea of justice to advance our personal interests and crush people who offend us. Jesus shows us a better way. Mercy triumphs over justice (James 2:13). In fact, the exercise of mercy is necessary if we are to obtain mercy. Jesus informs us that God will show mercy to us with the same measure that we use with others.
Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for the mercy you have shown me. I acknowledge that I am a terrible sinner and continually prone toward rebelling against your law, yet you have shown me mercy in abundance. Teach me to show mercy toward others, even as you have shown mercy toward me.
These days we hear a lot about justice as the term “Social Justice Warrior” has entered our language. While the honest pursuit of justice is a noble thing, if we are not careful, we can use the concept of justice to prop up our own interests rather than the interests of God. Let me suggest that it is safer for the follower of Jesus Christ to become a “Social Mercy Warrior.” We should learn to quickly forgive the people who offend us in the same way that God forgives us. A reread of the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:21-35 would help. Justice always involves the punishment of offenders; mercy sets everyone free. When we are merciful, we set the people who have offended us free, but then we also are set free. Jesus wants everyone to experience this freedom, and so he has given his life on the cross for the sin of the entire world. As his followers, we must learn to practice mercy. You can start today. Find someone who has offended you and forgive them in your heart. Practice this every morning and every night for the rest of your life.