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

Today we’re going to see how revenge rains down on the head of those who wound, hurt, and mistreat us. Want to know? If you do, let’s take a journey…

The Sermon on The Mount is Jesus proclaiming the ethic His followers will live. He is not setting forth what should be done to know Him, but what those who know Him do FROM THE HEART! He turned their centuries old ethic on its head. They had followed “Lex Talionis,” the law of exact retribution… “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” When they heard Jesus present the idea of mercy toward evil people, their jaws probably dropped. Let’s examine mercy and revenge…

What is mercy? Loving those who don’t love us.  Being gracious to the ungracious. Forgiving those who wound us. NOT taking revenge on people we don’t like or who we think/feel have mistreated us. It is NOT giving people what we think they deserve (Get that? What WE think they deserve).

Being merciful is the result of a person experiencing God’s mercy! You see, God is NOT fair to believers… He is merciful! God does not give His children what they deserve… He shows them mercy (Receiving what they do NOT deserve… forgiveness and salvation).

Today mercy is virtually non-existent! If a person is slighted, they retaliate. If they are treated wrong, they exact revenge. Being unmerciful ranges from actively hurting someone to unkind words to a hateful look to ignoring them (Persona Non Grata).

Jesus asserts that those who know Him WILL be merciful to others. Their conduct WILL mirror His conduct and it WILL come from their heart. By virtue of their changed nature… being born again and having a NEW heart… Jesus’ followers WILL GROW in mercy toward others.

With this as our foundation, let’s examine closer what mercy is. The first passage is Phil 1:27… “Whatever happens (!), conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the Gospel.”

Right off the bat we must accept this is impossible without a changed heart. Unless a person has The Spirit IN THEM, doing by nature Phil 1:27 will not happen. Why? Because it runs contrary to our sin nature. Because it is NOT in us to naturally forgive… to love everyone… to turn the other cheek when a person insults us or wounds us verbally! (PAUSE)

“Whatever happens?!” WHATEVER HAPPENS?!! Dwell on those two words. Put them in life. Apply them to situations at work… in community and church. “Whatever happens” applies to everything, when things don’t go our way… when we are mistreated… when we’re dealt a band hand… when life is hard.

“Worthy of the Gospel” does NOT mean sin is overlooked. It does NOT mean evil people are allowed to leave a path of destruction in their wake. It does NOT mean we are passive doormats when it comes to evil or mean people. Instead Christians… FROM THEIR HEART… WANT TO AND DO act consistent with what is written in Scripture and from the example of Jesus.

That means retaliation and revenge are off the table. A genuine Christian NEVER (!) seeks revenge… EVER! Instead, their actions are always what is lovingly best for others and God’s glory. These definition of these things is understood from SCRIPTURE. **** But we’ve got to move on ****

Q: Who here has ever made a mistake… a huge stupid mistake? How many have done things and regret it… realizing what we thought was right was actually dead wrong? Am I the only one who looks back and would do some things different if given a second chance?

Now, when we have (Or someday will) mess up royally… do we want people to forgive us… give us another chance… allow us to rebuild trust… let us make things right? If/when we fail, do we want others will attackpunish… not forgive and throw us under the bus? WELL?? (Mt 7:12)

Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

What is that verse called? To apply The Golden Rule requires a changed heart… one filled with love… a MERCIFUL attitude! Look our text again! Mt 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

Mt 5:7 does NOT mean if we show mercy God will as a result show us mercy. NO! The order is this: 1) God shows us mercy in salvation, 2) Because God bestowed mercy on us that we don’t deserve {!}, 3) We are merciful to others because Jesus has shown us mercy!

God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy toward us in salvation… that we know we do NOT deserve… drives us to live out the Golden Rule (To be merciful). If a person is NOT merciful, it is highly doubtful they have experienced God’s mercy themselves. (Pause)

Let’s look at one last passage to help us with mercy… especially when a person or others are not merciful toward us (Ro 12:17). This will help us orient our heart properly regarding mercy. Mercy, love, & forgiveness cannot be separated (As Ro 12:17-21 will show).

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable (For all to see). 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ 20 To the contrary, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him something to drink…’ 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

And then there is this passage from Proverbs 24:17, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, 18 lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.”

Not repaying evil to a person who has done evil IS mercy! Not repaying a person for assaulting us IS evidence of experiencing God’s mercy. And note… when it comes to these difficult situations which we all experience… the onus is on us to do what is right (“So far as it depends on you”). Sounds like Phil 1:27 doesn’t it?! Hmmm. Maybe Paul paraphrased Jesus?

But wait… NEVER avenge ourselves? EVER?! Well… that’s not me, its God!

Why leave vengeance to God? First, we aren’t God! We can’t know a person’s heart (Jer 17:9). We are not “fair” in our assessments. We will be overly vengeful. We are just as, if not more guilty, of sin than the other person. God has commanded us to leave vengeance to Him and He WILL carry it out!

If/when we sit in judgment of a person to exact vengeance, we’d better be ready for God carry out His judgment & vengeance on us for disobeying Him. If/when we refuse to show mercy we attempt to sit in the seat ONLY GOD CAN FILL… His Judgment Seat.

Rather than getting even… or “over even” (Vengeance)… we are to be merciful (Because God has been merciful to us). What does mercy look like? Ro 12:20, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him something to drink…” Do good to and for them! That is loving! That is merciful!

The person to show mercy to is: The person that steams you up when you see or hear them. The person who has mistreated you. The person who insults you. Why? Because you steam some people when they see you! You have mistreated others! You have insulted others!

“But preacher, you don’t know what people (A person) has done!” Well you’re right, I don’t. But God does! “Whatever happens conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the Gospel” (Phil 1:27). Then, Rom 12:19, “Vengeance is mine (Says the Lord), I WILL repay…” Then our foundation text of Mt 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy…”

My guess is that we all are feeling the conviction of the Spirit. For some it’s feeling guilty. Others may be mad and/or defensive. If what we’ve looked at today goes in one ear and out the other that can only be because of a calloused heart that doesn’t honor God or care for others…

Prayer: God… help us, show us our faults and failures. Grow Your love and mercy in us.

(Picture Credit)