Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Matthew 5:7 NIV)
The first four beatitudes deal with my relationship with God. With the fifth beatitude there is a shift. While it is possible to be merciful to myself I have no doubt that this is not what Jesus has in mind. We live in a world where the predominant cry is for justice. Of course, this perspective almost always goes only one way. We want those who have hurt us or taken from us to pay us back. Rarely does it enter our minds how much we owe others; much less how much we owe God.
I think this beatitude is at the core of what Jesus wants to understand about God. He wants us to understand that we have a loving and merciful God. We can know this and say this, but until we act out mercy toward someone else our understanding is limited.
When we first moved into our neighborhood we were blessed to discover that there were several other Christian families on the court. One family demonstrated that they understood God’s mercy. One of their sons was killed by a drunk driver and the other was disabled for life. They experienced grief at the losses and still reached out to the man who had killed their son. They did the best they could to extend mercy. As confirmation of how difficult giving and receiving mercy is for us, the drunk driver rejected their efforts.
Maybe because genuine mercy is so rare this issue is very important to Jesus. It is so important that this principle is repeated several times in the New Testament. Look at these verses and determine what action you need to take based on the mercy God has you.
- What does David want us to understand about God?
- How well does this Psalm fit wit your understanding of the God of the Old Testament?
- Who are we and what should we expect from God? From others?
- What response does this Psalm call for?
- What are you doing to act justly in your community?
- What would it be like to live in a community where everyone loved mercy?
- How much do you love mercy?
- What difference does this make in the lives of the people close to you?
- How important is humility when acting justly and loving mercy?
- Which of the three things mentioned (justice, mercy, or humility) is most difficult for you to practice?
Note: See Grandma’s “anti-prayer” at
- What is our greatest temptation?
- What part does forgiveness play in defeating that temptation?
- Why does Jesus choose to emphasize forgiveness after this example of how to pray?
- How does an unwillingness to forgive inhibit our prayers?
- Have you ever seen this parable played out in real life?
- How much have you been forgiven by God?
- What debts do others owe you that you are hanging on to?
- What do you need to do to forgive and make that forgiveness complete?
- Describe the three main characters in this story.
- Which ones demonstrate mercy? How do they do that?
- What does mercy look like for the person giving it?
- What does mercy look like for the person receiving it?
- What is the connection between forgiveness and mercy?
- How does your experience in receiving mercy impact how you give mercy?
The Cure: What if God isn’t who you think He is and neither are you? by Bruce McNicol and Bill Thrall
Bold Love by Dan B Allender and Tremper Longman
The Message of the Sermon on the Mount by John Stott
The Gospel of Matthew Volume I (The New Daily Study Bible) by William Barclay
Matthew: A Commentary. Volume 1: The Christbook, Matthew 1-12 by Frederick Dale Bruner
FOR MORE FAMILY, SMALL GROUP, AND CHURCH RESOURCES GO TO: The Beatitudes on mygrandmatime.com.