Thursday, March 3 Read Matthew 5:1-14
Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy. Matthew 5:7
This passage is part of the Beatitudes, which is part of the Sermon on the Mount. When he delivered this sermon, Jesus was well into his ministry, going about preaching, teaching, healing and, in general, offering a generous helping of Good News.
We are hard pressed for good news these days. It seems the media, both print and electronic, inform us daily of the latest atrocities occurring in the world. It has become so that paying attention to the news is hazardous to health, both mental and physical.
Governments greedy for power and material goods annex countries, leaving people displaced. The people flee and other governments are reluctant to accept them out of fear. Deranged individuals pick up guns and destroy lives for one reason or another. Sometimes the people charged with protecting and serving forget their mission. Family members abuse one another; politicians spew dangerous rhetoric; and the list continues. Where is the mercy?
As Jesus pointed out to his disciples, following him and his precepts was not easy. The disciples were not likely to receive fame and fortune. However, as my dad used to say, "Do the right thing; you'll get your reward in heaven." The problem with this is determining what the right thing is and being able to appreciate the benefit of delayed gratification!
The Beatitudes are meant to be taken as a whole, describing what we should be like as followers of Christ. "They contrast worldly values with kingdom values,” according to comments in the Life Application Study Bible. Doing this requires a definite attitude adjustment. Followers of Christ have a different value system. They are not selfish or proud and they do not lust after power.
Being merciful means caring about and for others. Even a kind word or a smile is a benefit to someone who is having a difficult day. Direct help to others is an easy step – there are so many avenues open to assist others. Volunteering comes easily to mind.
Jesus is not measuring. He just asks that we try. Advice is offered in Ephesians 5:1-2: "Follow God's example in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love for others following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins.”
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