From Where I Sit: Mercy is for giving as well as receivingBy: Tom Rupp, Special to the Telegraph
On Wednesday night at church, we have been having a Bible study on what are called “the Beatitudes” in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5 through 7.
They are called this because each of them starts, in the King James Version, with the word “blessed.” Among them is the famous one that has entered our cultural vocabulary, “blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”
These beatitudes detail character qualities that God births and cultivates in our hearts and then in our lives. They describe what kingdom of God life looks like. They include being hungry for righteousness, pure in heart and a peacemaker.
Last week we took an in-depth look at Matthew 5:7 – “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” I compared many different Bible translations and there was only slight variation among them. After all, how many different ways can you state the obvious?
The Bible says a lot about God and the nature of God. One of the things that the Bible says constitutes the very essence of God is mercy. It is who God is. It does not and will not change. There will never be a time when God is not merciful.
Therefore, when the Bible asks God to “forgive us as we forgive” and “if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you” (Matthew 6:13-15), it seems to give the impression that God barters His forgiveness. Surely that cannot be the case. Surely God’s mercy is not in my hands to distribute or not.
No, a clearer, more Biblically-balanced view emerged from my study and it is this – when I receive forgiveness from God but then withhold it from others, it is not that God then withholds it from me. Instead, it is that I have cut myself off from the Source of forgiveness and can no longer expect to receive it; not, that is, until I truly reopen myself to be both a giver as well as a receiver of mercy.
We are truly blessed when we show mercy to others, for then we keep open and active the flow of mercy both to us and through us. Once we have tasted forgiveness from God, what else can we do but share it with others? It’s that good; it’s that life-changing. We breathe God’s mercy every day.
Reach Tom Rupp at firstname.lastname@example.org.