“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

How fortunate we are to serve a God who is love. He is not just a God who has the capacity for love, He is not just a God who practices love, and not just a God who displays love. He is the perfect definition of love, as God is love. As the Apostle John wrote in his first letter, “For God is love.” (1 John 4:8) The love of God demands that He be compassionate towards His creation. Because He is compassionate towards the struggles that we have in this fallen world in His love He is gracious towards us. In our present flawed love towards Him He remains longsuffering and slow to anger and overwhelmingly shows His lovingkindness towards us. It is beyond the comprehension of man to understand the greatness of His love. The man who should know best the mercy of our God, King David expressed this in this way. “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.” (Psalms 103:8, 11)

This highness of the Most High Love is the attraction that we have to a loving Father who rules all in this universe and beyond. It is not because we have this capacity of love towards Him but it is that He shows that great love towards us. “We love, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) The Christian comes to know and live for His love. This love is the God that we long to serve, the God that we desire to be as, and the God that we pray to abide with. “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16)

If we think deeply about it there can be no love without justice. Love and justice depend upon each other and there cannot be one if there is not the other. God is Love and He is just. “For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited, “I am the LORD, and there is none else. … Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me.” (Isaiah 45:18, 21) If God does not bring justice to the unrighteous then where is His love for the righteous? All who sin against the Word of God will suffer the wrath of God upon them. “For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.” (Colossians 3:25) The God of love will have to reconcile the behavior of all men according to their words and deeds both good and bad. “He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26) This puts man the creature in a bad place in the light of the Creators righteousness, the God of love who is Holy and just. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

Justice then demands that we get what we deserve. Justice then demands that we suffer the wrath of God the Creator for our rebellious acts against His Word. As we serve and fear a God of love He shows His lovingkindness towards us and we receive the good fruit of His mercy. “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1 KJV) Our God of love deflects that which we deserve by showing His mercy towards us. This lack of justice then would unbalance the scale of love. True, the sins committed against God’s Word must be reconciled and in God’s love for His creation He has paid the wage of our sin by His Son’s grace the Lord Jesus Christ. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Through God’s mercy Jesus paid our debt in full and by His grace we do not receive that which we deserve. If we just accept and believe Him for who He is and call upon Him by His grace we can be forgiven and escape the wrath we justly deserve. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Because through our receiving God’s mercy by our repentance, a turning away from our old self and turning towards the new self of living in His righteousness, we should display His mercy towards others. As we have received forgiveness we should have a forgiving heart. We should set aside our selfishness and have mercy towards others who have wronged us and realize as King David that the sins committed are not against us but against God’s Word. “Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.” (Psalm 51:4)

Because we know the weight of the guilt of our past we should understand and have compassion upon those who still suffer that weight. Through our compassion we can identify with the others who are suffering. Because we have suffered the pangs of our past we can understand what our neighbors are experiencing. In the parable of “The Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:30-37)” Jesus we expressing this concept. We learn to suffer together that we can express the love that our God has given us and glorify His name. This is the second great command that Jesus gave us. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)

Showing mercy towards others is an attribute of the love that we abide in. God does not see us as who we are now, as He sees us in the light of who we are to become. “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3) We are to submit to Him our Lord and let Him live through us that His character may be seen through us that we will become what God wants us to be. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Changing from the old self to the new self is a process. It is not the instant thing that some would like to believe or experience. We must remember that old habits die hard, that there are evil spiritual forces that seek to destroy us, and that we truly arrive when we are placed upon that far shore. Till then it is a process of sanctification through the power of the Holy Spirit and calls for much self-examination. “But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.” (1 Corinthians 11:28,31)

Mercy is not a onetime need. Mercy is an enduring need as great as the enduring mercy that God the Father is willing to give to each of us. This beatitude ends in a measure that we must not forsake. We must be merciful to receive mercy. And in the measure that we give mercy to others is the measure that will be applied unto us by our Lord and Savior who is with us always. “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, February 7, 2016

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