Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Does this contradict the previous point, for what is mercy if not the mitigation of the expectation of righteousness? When I have heard teaching on God’s mercy, I have been told that is it the relenting of God from his own righteous indignation. In other words, mercy is God not judging someone who entirely deserves it.
So, on the one hand there are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and on the other there are the merciful to whom mercy will be dispensed. Is there something counter-intuitive about that? If I were to pursue righteousness, surly it would be because I desired mercy? Surly the number one reason for right behaviour is the fear of judgement and the promised alleviation of it? Conversely, if I were to show mercy to a person I would be more inclined to do so if God promised that he would judge the offender I’d had mercy upon.
The two are separate and seemingly irreconcilable. Does the one desiring righteousness forsake mercy? Surly, if one wanted righteousness he would fall under God’s judgement for all are short of God’s standard? The merciful person would, therefore, be in a better position than the one desiring God’s righteousness. He would not be consumed in judgement.
Merciful people receive mercy.
Hungry, thirsty people are satisfied with righteousness.
How do these notions meet?
What if mercy is righteousness, in God’s eyes?
If I understand righteousness to be a state which God imputes to me by my response to his work (the cross), what response has God required? You get five points for instantly thinking of Micah 6:8 which in the NIV translates:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
(And may that be the last time I quote the NIV on here)
Mercy is the right response to God. In other words, it is righteousness in God’s sight.
It doesn’t seem this way because humans have a tendency to look only to one another rather than outside of themselves. However, in God’s economy, mercy is a response of faith and thus is counted as righteousness. Mercy is obedience, and obedience is faith. Jesus later reaffirms the point in his instruction on prayer:
…forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And so, the merciful receive God’s mercy by their faith.
Are the Beatitudes an exposition on faith? Do they show us the ‘shape’ of the Christian life, and thus how one is united with God? I am inclined in this direction.
As always your thoughts are most welcome.