Matthew R. Perry

Happy Are The Merciful, for Mercy Awaits

In Church Life, Devotional, Sermons on April 27, 2008 at 5:07 pm

(This is a portion of a sermon preached on Sunday, April 27, 2008. To listen to the sermon in its entirety, click here. For other audio sermons, click here.)

Every once in a while I hear something that helps me so much in understanding my Christian walk, it gives me one of those “Ah-ha!” moments. I was listening to a sermon by Tim Keller out of New York. One day, his wife insightfully told him how the Christian life for so many was like putting quarters in a Coke machine. The object is to put the quarters in, then out comes the beverage. But on occasion, you put the quarters in and they don’t drop. So what do you do? You shake it and bump it until you hear the quarters drop.

For all too many Christians, the quarters have been deposited in our minds. We know the facts of the Gospel in how God made us, how we have sinned, and how we need to be saved by Christ through his death and resurrection. Many of us have made that decision. The problem though is that those quarters haven’t dropped and we’re waiting in that frustrating in-between stage where we know salvation in Christ, but we just fail to live it out in Christ.

Last week, I preached on the first four beatitudes. Those are the quarters in the machine. These last four Beatitudes are what should come out when the quarters drop. Being a Kingdom child is not just about Kingdom thinking, but Kingdom living. And the only way this can happen is not just from living out Kingdom principles, but when the King of Kings lives in us — Jesus Christ. My prayer this morning is that the Spirit will shake us until the quarters drop.

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

Mercy. One of the words that we find used in a number of different places, but do we really understand what this word means? We tend to use the word ‘mercy’ and ‘grace’ in much the same way. Think of it this way: grace is receiving something you do not deserve, and mercy is not receiving something you do deserve. D.A. Carson says that, “Grace answers to the undeserving; mercy answers to the miserable.”

So, when we read this passage of Scripture, we tend to take it like this, “If we are merciful, we shall receive mercy.” If you do this, then this will come back to you. This sounds right on the surface. But how does one become merciful? In reality, one who is merciful is one who has received mercy himself — he is one who understands his need for mercy and have received it abundantly. He understands, going back to the first beatitude, that he is in poverty in spirit due to his sin. As a result, he prays like David did, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love, according to your abundant mercy, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquities, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-3).

I came across this recently, “It is sometimes said that an alcoholic who won’t admit he’s an alcoholic hates all other alcoholics.” Here’s a question for you: are you more offended at someone else’s sin moreso than your own? How can you tell? Well, have you shown mercy because you realize that great mercy God showed you? Do you find yourself feeling unworthy of it? Do you find yourself even resenting God’s mercy?

Consider Jonah. Jonah was a Bible-believing prophet commissioned by God. Yet God sends Jonah to a place and a people that to whom he feels far superior. He believes in the Bible, yet displays no compassion, no love, no mercy toward them. Why? Some would say, “Well, he’s prejudice.” That’s true, but why? “Well, he’s a sinner, like all of us.” That’s true, but where’s the rub for him? The problem was that he believed in something greater than the Gospel, something other than God to sustain him. And if you are having trouble being merciful to others, have you truly received and understood the mercy of God?

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