Matthew 5:7 – “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
When Yeshua taught that the merciful shall be blessed, the term he used for mercy was exemplified in a parable he was to tell later on in the book of Matthew. It is known variously as the parable of the unforgiving or unmerciful servant. I won’t recount the entire passage here, but it is found in Matthew 18:21-35. In brief, it explains how, after receiving forgiveness of a large debt from his master, a servant then goes out and begins demanding repayment of others who owed him small amounts of money. When his master finds out, he brings him back and scolds him for being unmerciful.
Matthew 18:32-33 – “Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. “Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you? ‘
This word for mercy is the same word Yeshua used in Matthew 5 regarding those who are blessed. It implies that one who is demonstrating mercy has a right to perform a measure of judgment on someone and yet refrains due to a granting or bestowing of favor.
In context, the whole parable was told in answer to Peter’s question of how many times must he forgive someone who repeatedly comes to him. In fact, Yeshua ends the parable with a lesson in forgiveness:
Matthew 18:35 – “So also my heavenly Father will do to you unless every one of you forgives his brother or sister from your heart.”
From this we can see how closely this mercy and forgiveness are. When we forgive, it is because we are exercising mercy, that is, granting or bestowing favor on someone with whom we have a legitimate right to hold to account for something.
The broader lesson in Yeshua’s teaching in Matthew 5 indicates that mercy begets mercy; there is a reciprocal and regenerative nature to being generous and compassionate. This is why the servant in the parable was ultimately held to account: he was not regenerating mercy after receiving mercy himself.
1 Peter 2:10 – Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
The apostle Peter writes that as God’s people we have received mercy from God. The regenerative nature of mercy then demands that we show mercy to others, and when we do so, we will be blessed in reciprocation. This mercy can be demonstrated not only in forgiveness of others, but in acts of compassion toward those who cannot help themselves.
When we live in this way, we begin to generate ripples of mercy that flow outward from us into the lives of others, and we open ourselves to reciprocal acts of mercy from others and from God. This is the true blessing in being merciful and compassionate.
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