Matthew 5:7 - Blessed are the merciful

Matthew 5:7 - Blessed are the merciful

Sermon on the Mount


  • The first beatitude - “Blessed are the pure in spirit” - is us coming to Jesus Christ for salvation.  To be poor in spirit means to be absolutely in poverty, without any ability whatsoever to improve yourself.  You are completely at the mercy of someone else for help.  This is what happened at salvation.  We were bankrupt spiritually, sin destroyed our lives, and we were broken with only one hope - The Gospel!  
  • Once coming to the place of being poor in spirit, the rest of the beatitudes open up to us.  We can now live out the remaining beatitudes, with the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, view the beatitudes like an organizational chart:
  1. At the top of the chart is the President or CEO 
  2. Below him or her and going from left to right are managers of the different functions within the company - Human resources, operations, sales and marketing, customer service, transportation, accounting, quality control, etc.
  3. The top of the chart is “blessed are the pure in spirit.”  a link down, and going from left to right are “Blessed are they that mourn,” “Blessed are the meek,” “blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness,” and this evening, “blessed are the merciful.” This means, only the poor in spirit can be merciful - in this narrow biblical definition of the word.  
  • These beatitudes have become secularized by today’s political and social mechanisms. Each one of these beatitudes will take the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to live out because these beatitudes are other-worldly.  

Value of the word

Sometimes, to better understand the definition and value of a word, we look at how that word fits in other verse of the Bible.  

Illustration: I was talking to my son the other day and I used the word “resign” in a sentence.  The sentence went like this: “This person has resigned to the circumstances of their situation.”  He did not know how the word applied to the sentence because his understand of the word “resign” was limited to “quitting.”  So, I used “resign” in a couple of other sentences to help him understand its meaning and value in the sentence I gave him.  

Although the root word for “merciful” appears hundreds of times in the New Testament, this Greek word with its suffix occurs one other time in the New Testament. 

Hebrews 2:17KJV 1900

Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto hisbrethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertainingto God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

  • In this verse, the word merciful means so much more than compassion.  This word connects with our relationship to God and people.  First, be merciful with the position that God gave us “in things pertaining to Him.” Whatever position that God has called us into - For Jesus it was high priest - we should fulfill that position with mercy.  As it relates to God, it is about us giving of ourselves to God.  I believe there is a lot of good work that takes place within Christianity; yet, people have not giving themselves to God, first.  Being merciful is first, understanding our position in God.  

Brothers and sisters, we cannot understand our position in God, outside of the local church (1 Corinthians 12).  Paul says that gifts were giving to the saints for the edifying of the body.  The body he had in mind was not universal but local and visible.  This is validated through the metaphor Paul used to help explain their oneness in Christ.  He used a physical body.  A physical body does not work if this body is universal; one portion of this universal body may never know what the other portion of this universal body is doing; so how can they be helped or hurt.  Yet, Paul says when one part hurts, everyone knows about it and hurts, and another part rejoices, everyone knows about it and rejoices.  This only works if the body is local.  Our position in God must be seen within the framework of this local body.  

The day God saved Paul, He had a calling for Paul. 

Acts 9:15KJV 1900

But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

Yet, this calling never became a reality in Paul’s life until he joined the church at Antioch.  

  • Merciful as it relates to people is becoming part of the reconciliation process.
  1. A. W. Pink - “Mercifulness…is a gracious disposition toward our fellow creatures and fellow Christians.  It is a spirit of kindness and benevolence which sympathizes with the sufferings of the afflicted, so that we weep with those that weep, it ennobles its possessor so that he tempers justice with mercy, and scorns the taking of revenge.”  
  2. Martyn Lloyd Jones - “Grace is especially associated with men in their sins; mercy is especially associated with men in their misery.  In other words, while grace looks down upon sin as a whole, mercy looks especially upon the miserable consequences of sin.”  

iii.  Ray Pritchardexplains that mercy includes three elements…

  1. I see the need”—that’s recognition.
  2. I am moved by the need”—that’s motivation.
  3. I move to meet the need”—that’s action
  4. This is selfless.  The first four beatitudes are primarily focused on the person.  Jesus put more weight upon our attitude than our actions toward others.  The point is we have to be before we can do.  We have to be poor in spirit, mourn, meek and hunger and thirst after righteousness. Once these are accomplished we can now do.  Within this beatitude Jesus taught His disciples that they should not control their Christianity but have their Christianity control them.  This is the first beatitude that focuses on giving to others.  The person who is blessed is the person who extends mercy.  Oftentimes, to extend mercy takes dying to self.    

Victory in the verse

  • Fear

Luke 1:50KJV 1900

And his mercy ison them that fear himFrom generation to generation.

If we are extending mercy, it is because we fear Him.  Perhaps another way of putting it is, if we extend mercy it is because we understand how weak we are in ourselves and we fear God handling us as we handle others in need of mercy.  

You may say: “Where is the victory in this?”  Two ways:

  1. "Keep the historical contextin mind as you study this ‘be attitude’. The religious leadership in Jesus’ day tended toward being judgmental and merciless (‘mercy less’) because of their demand for rigorous observance of the law. The Scribes and Pharisees did not receive God’s mercy because they had become so self-satisfied with their own religious attainments that they did not sense their dangerous condition of total spiritual bankruptcy and their desperate need for God's rich mercy.”  We see our spiritual bankruptcy in being poor in spirit and flowing from this is a merciful spirit.  Praise the Lord.
  2. Perspective:

Psalm 128KJV 1900

A Song of degrees.Blessed isevery one that feareth the Lord;That walketh in his ways.For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands:Happy shaltthou be, and it shall bewell with thee.Thy wife shall beas a fruitful vineBy the sides of thine house:Thy children like olive plantsRound about thy table.Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord.The Lordshall bless thee out of Zion:And thou shalt see the good of JerusalemAll the days of thy life.Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children,Andpeace upon Israel.

  1. Those who fear God will be obedient to Him
  2. Those who fear God will be blessed with their family and see the good in their nation. 

Thus, fearing God produces holy perspective on life.  

  • The context is if you extend mercy then you will receive mercy.  This is not talking about salvation; rather, the ability to extend mercy.  

“Carries the joint idea of actively demonstrating sympathy for someone else and of having the necessary resources to successfully comfort and strengthen that person.

Extending mercy is difficult to do in many cases.  Especially, the kind of mercy that is required of Christians; however, God will give us the mercy to extend mercy.  Therefore, every time we extend mercy proves our devotion to God and His active working in our life.