The Beatitudes
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Lesson Five • Merciful
James Mann

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

As a teacher, I am always wondering what people know before they even begin a project or lesson.

     1. That being said, in your mind, what does mercy mean?


     2. What does mercy look like?


Mercy is an interesting concept that is defined as “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”

Often, when I think of mercy, I think of the relationship I have had with dogs as I have grown up over the years. As I am not a parent, this is the closest thing I can do to relate, but I do believe these concepts are similar to children as well. As the parent, I have the ability to punish in whatever way I see fit. When a dog does something they are not supposed to do, as the parent, you are left with the decision on how to handle the situation.

Proverbs 12:10challenges us on how to handle our furry friends, “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.”

Many people handle this in a physical sense by swatting their behinds or their nose. While this may deter the animal from doing the action again, you are gaining a pet who fears you and flinches every time your hand moves. Another option that some people choose is to do nothing. This causes the action to be repeated, as nothing happened to them to prevent them from reacting in the same way. The third option is mercy. By showing the dog mercy, we are recognizing that what they have done is wrong, but we are meeting them with compassion and forgiveness. This is the same option our God follows.

     3. What is one way you could show compassion to a child who has done wrong?


Now that we have discussed what mercy is, I want to discuss why we should give mercy. When I think of the concept of mercy, it often brings me a few chapters ahead of where we are now to Matthew 18:21-35. Here we are presented with a parable that is given to us by Jesus based on Peter’s question of, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” In this story, we see a servant not giving mercy to those around him, even though mercy was once given to him. Once word got back to the master that the servant was not showing mercy to others, the master sent for him, and Jesus ends this parable by saying, “‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:32b-35).

     4. Based on the above passage, why do you think we should forgive others?


It is interesting that based on the above passage, we see the master offering mercy and then taking the offer away once he sees the actions of his servant. Jesus tells us that the same will be done to us if we do not show mercy to others. I want you to think for a moment about what this would mean for you. Think about everything you have ever done that was not Christ-like. Think about the things you are so grateful God looks past. Imagine now that God took away His mercy from us. That is what things will look like for us if we do not show mercy to our brothers that have done wrong. Luke 6:36 tells us, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

     5. In what ways has God shown mercy to you in your life?


     6. How would your life look different if you were not shown this mercy?


This is one of those lessons that is great and dandy to learn about, but what are you going to do with it? What about this lesson are you going to take and apply to your life? I want you all to take a moment right now and think about your life. Think about those that you surround yourself with or even those with whom you do not choose to surround yourself. All of us have handled a situation in the wrong way and with the wrong heart. These choices hurt those around us. All of these things can be fixed with mercy.

     7. In what way do you need to show mercy to someone that is in your life right now?


The aspect of mercy that we have not talked about is, who do we show mercy to?

    8. Who would you say is the most difficult person or people to show mercy to and why?


When it comes to treating people properly, we should always start showing this in the home. An interesting thing to think about though, have you ever noticed that sometimes it is easier to show mercy to someone you work with over someone you live with?

     9. Why do you feel that it is more difficult to show mercy to someone in your household over another area of life?


Galatians 6:10adds, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

By looking at Galatians, we can see the next two groups that we should be showing mercy towards. The first mentioned is “those who are of the household of faith,” or simply put, believers. The second group from this passage is simply “everyone.”

There is an interesting group of people that I want to put some focus on as we wrap things up. What do we do with those who hate us? We can look to the story in 2 Samuel chapter 9 and see an interesting scene beginning. David is asking if there is anyone from the lineage of Saul to which he can show kindness. As many of us know, Saul made David’s life extremely unpleasant. Saul’s mission was to kill David before David took his spot as king. In 2 Samuel chapter 9, David finds Saul’s crippled grandson, Mephibosheth, and verse 7 says, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” David is choosing to show mercy to the grandson of the man that hated him the most. This is something that even throws the grandson for a loop as he asks in verse 8, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” What a beautiful picture of mercy. This is how we should show mercy to those in our life that make it difficult.

     10. How have your views on mercy changed after this study?


As we come to an end, I want you to take this quote to heart as it a great model for showing mercy to those in your life.

“God’s mercy to us is the motivation
for showing mercy to others.
Remember, you will never be asked
to forgive someone else more
than God has forgiven you.”
Rick Warren


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