We owe our salvation to the grace of God who freely shows us mercy by forgiving our sins, and from His sovereign position as ruler of the universe, grants us eternal life. All these beatitudes are founded on this principle of salvation by grace through faith alone. We are debtors to free grace. We all know how much we owe God for forgiving us of such a multitude of ways we have failed to love Him and those around us. We are constantly in need of fresh forgiveness and mercy. And that makes us even more poor in spirit.
So you see how all these beatitudes are connected with one another as well as founded on free grace. They are all dealing primarily with our character which is then reflected in our attitude as we help others. It is about BEING; not only DOING. It is about who we really are. If we are merciful, we pity those who are suffering and seek to relieve and help them. Our being merciful leads to our doing acts of kindness to help those burdened by troubles and sorrows. And our attitude while helping will be meek because we have mourned our own sin that very morning! So we are not helping others out of self-righteousness or a feeling of superiority, but from a humble, meek spirit. One beatitude leads to another.
DEFINITION OF MERCIFUL
Being merciful is not just being easy-going and tolerant. Others want Christians to nod and say, “Okay.” Today it is evolution, sexual freedom, definition of marriage, homosexuality, abortion, suicide. Saying “okay” is not being merciful. The merciful woman says, “No, that is wrong.” Then takes pity upon those caught up in those sins and seeks to relieve the miseries that result. And then, she forgives the slander and rejection she will often receive–even from some in her own family. She stands on the truth as seen in the Bible with an attitude of pity mixed with a willingness to forgive and help. She is to be envied because one day God will pity her, and in spite of her many sins, show her mercy.
If you are this kind of person (in one degree or another), then you will also be forgiving those who are sinning or have sinned against you. There is a direct connection between being merciful and being forgiving. If you look at the person who has sinned against you with pity, realizing they are caught up in something that will bring misery to them and those they love, then you can pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Then you can do something for them that might help or comfort them when they run into those consequences or life’s troubles. You are able to do acts of mercy because you have forgiven them for what they have done to you. There is that connection between the beatitudes again.
Thomas Watson and Martyn Lloyd-Jones both taught this. Watson went into great detail of how to relieve others yet resisting any theology based on works. Lloyd-Jones urged self-examination to a culture that took their own Christianity for granted.
It is a solemn, serious and, in a sense, terrible thing to say that you cannot be truly forgiven unless there is a forgiving spirit in you. For the operation of the grace of God is such, that when it comes into our hearts with forgiveness it makes us merciful. We proclaim, therefore, whether we have received forgiveness or not by whether we forgive or not. If I am forgiven, I shall forgive. None of us has by nature a forgiving spirit….Because they have already obtained mercy, therefore they are merciful. As we go on through the world we fall into sin. The moment we do so we need this mercy and we get it. And remember the end….We shall need mercy in that day. And, thank God, if the grace of Christ is in us, if the spirit of the Lord is in us, and we are merciful, we shall obtain mercy in that day. What makes me merciful is the grace of God. But the grace of God does make me merciful. So it comes to this, If I am not merciful there is only one explanation; I have never understood the grace and the mercy of God; I am outside Christ; I am yet in my sins, and I am unforgiven.
‘Let every man examine himself.’ I am not asking you what sort of life you are living. I am not asking whether you do this, that or the other. I am not asking whether you have some general interest in the kingdom of God and His house. I am simply asking this. Are you merciful? Are you sorry for every sinner even though that sinner offends you? Have you pity upon all who are the victims and the dupes of the world and the flesh and the devil? That is the test” (Sermon On The Mount,(Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Combined version, 1981), p. 105.).