Summary: What is mercy and what does it look like in a believers life.

Blessed are the Merciful

Matthew 5:7 – “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. “


Illustration - Napoleon

The story is told of a mother who once approached Napoleon asking for a pardon for her son. Napoleon replied that the young man had twice committed a certain crime and that for justice to be done, the man deserved to die.

“But I don’t ask for justice,” the mother explained. “I plead for mercy.”

“But your son does not deserve mercy,” replied Napoleon.

“It would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all that I seek for him,” replied the mother.

Because of the mother’s sound and clear reasoning, Napoleon said, “Well, then, I will have mercy,” and he spared the woman’s son.

Mercy is a gift given to those who don’t deserve it.

Legal Setting

You will often hear this used in a legal setting after a person has been convicted and guilt has been assigned. When the sentence is about to be handed down, it is mercy that is sought, not innocence.

At that point, your only hope is mercy;

mercy so that you don’t get what you deserve.


This morning we are continuing on in our series on the beatitudes and we are going to be talking about the 5th beatitude.

Matthew 5:7 - Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.


As we have been doing in this series, we are going to ask and answer some questions about mercy and what that looks like in the life of someone who is merciful.

First, we want to ask,

What is Mercy?


I think it is helpful to understand what something is not, in order to better understand what it is.

First, we need to understand that

Mercy is not Emotionalism


Just because a person sees a television commercial with starving kids and sheds some tears and wants to help, does not necessarily mean that person is merciful.

Often when a person is making decisions or doing something out of an emotional response,

it is to alleviate the emotions they are feeling

rather than out of a heart of mercy.

Now, just to clarify something, those who are merciful, will often experience deep emotions, but just because a person is emotional, doesn’t make them merciful.


Not only do we sometimes look at someone who is acting out of their emotions only merciful, but sometimes we look at people who have given large amounts of money or aid to charities or people and we call them humanitarians and believe they are merciful.


Mercy is not Humanitarianism


A person can be a humanitarian and not be merciful.

People sometimes do “good things” not out of a heart of mercy, but for selfish reasons.

Tax write offs,

to look good among people,

for their own sense of feeling good.

But if humanitarian efforts are not coming from a heart of love to benefit a person for the long run, then it is not mercy, and you haven’t really done anything merciful, but rather have acted on selfish desires.

Paul writes to the Corinthians in


1 Corinthians 13:3 - If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Paul says that even if a person gives away everything to the poor, but they didn’t do it in love, they have gained nothing, they have not acted mercifully.

Now just like the other point we made about emotionalism, while being a humanitarian doesn’t make you merciful, a merciful person will be a humanitarian. They will care about other people.


Ok, so if mercy is not emotionalism, even though emotions will often accompany acts of mercy and mercy is not humanitarianism, but a merciful person will be a humanitarian, what is mercy?

Mercy is a Heart Attitude


Mercy is an attitude of our heart that comes from being in relationship with Christ.

Mercy desires to help people by giving them what they do not necessarily deserve for their long term benefit, not just a short term pleasure.

This is the difference between showing someone mercy and “enabling” bad choices and behavior.

Mercy is a heart attitude that desires to truly help people for the long term.

God is the perfect example of mercy. It is because of His heart of love that He has shown us mercy in not making us pay for our own sins.

Ephesians 2:4-5


But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.

But he did not pour out his mercy so we could sin more, knowing that we don’t have to pay the consequences.

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