Within the Beatitudes we find this: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7) And this is shown to be so true in Lamentations 3:22-23 when we read, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His mercies never fail. They are new every morning.” We can show compassion to our fellow man because of God’s compassion continually being poured into us… anew and fresh every morning. So to be full of mercy is to exhibit the same grace and kindness that God daily extends to us.
God’s mercy is extended to the whole race of mankind. “For He is the God not only of the Jews, but of the Gentiles.” (Romans 3:29) It also reminds us in Psalm 22:27 that someday, “all the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord.” And as these verses today show, God is continually extending His hand to us…wooing and beckoning us to come near and worship Him.
During the very darkest time of my life I would read Psalm 86 in its entirety out loud every morning. I was alone, isolated from friends and family, and in the middle of a very violent relationship. I felt hopeless, helpless and totally alone. As I read these words out loud, I could almost hear David reminding himself that the Lord was near. And as he recalled all of God’s attributes…His great love, His mercy, compassion, and faithfulness, I too would be reminded of them and what God had done for me. And in the end, just like David, this Psalm gave me the strength and courage to endure for one more day.
Jesus Christ is the embodiment of God’s loving kindness towards us. For as sinners, we have no right to claim that any of our good works will get us any closer to heaven…for they won’t. It is only by putting our faith and trust in Jesus that we can be saved…and it is only by His unmerited grace and mercy towards us that it can happen.
In I Peter 3:12 the Apostle Peter quotes Psalm 34:15 when he writes, ” For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayers.” Peter was writing to God-fearing Christians, encouraging them to endure the persecution that was prevalent at the time. Persecution can take on many type of faces. It can be internal physical affliction that drags us down…or it can be external forces that exasperate and irritate us. Peter wanted to show that regardless of the kind of persecution…God’s loving mercy is everlasting and always near to those who love Him.
The blind beggar was hopeless…his life, a story of misery and suffering…but then he heard about this man, Jesus, who was healing people of all their afflictions. So when he caught word that Jesus was going to be passing by, he seized on the chance that Jesus might heal him. He started yelling, but was abruptly chided and warned to be quiet…and he could have allowed his fear of man to stop his voice…but he didn’t! That’s because the blind beggar’s desperation far outweighed any curt remarks directed his way, and his faith in Jesus far stronger than any words spoken by man. He was not detoured by others or fear…for he knew Jesus could heal him.
What was King Solomon looking for when he gave such a bizarre and brutal order? Before him were two prostitutes seeking justice…both claiming this baby was theirs. On hearing his order, one agreed with it…while the other, filled with compassion for the child, said, “Please my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!” That was the visceral reaction King Solomon was looking for…and he gave the baby to that mother. Our God has that same kind of deep compassion towards us. For He looks upon us as a father looks upon his children…with mercy, tenderness and pity.
Even when we’re not thinking about Him, God is still thinking about us. He is continually adding to and filling us with His loving kindness and mercy…even times when we don’t really deserve it. And God’s steadfastness towards us often puts to shame the poor example of trust we have of Him. For regardless of how often we’re mindful of Him…God is always thinking about us.
This verse implies… it’s not about us…and it’s not at all about our “righteous acts”. That’s because God’s infinite mercy and kindness towards us isn’t based on our works. It’s actually quite the opposite…for in Isaiah 64:6 it says, “…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags to God.” And if you think about it, we can’t even take any credit for the relationship we have with God…for without the Cross spanning that chasm between God and man, we’d be lost. No, all honor needs to go to God, the Creator and source of everything. All glory needs to be ascribed to Him… for He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. (Exodus 34:6)