What is Mercy…Really?

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (Matt 5:7)

What is mercy? There is often talk of the grace of God, but what is the mercy of God?

Mercy in Greek language is eleēmōn – showing kindness or goodwill toward one afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them of pain. As I looked at this verse and the Greek understanding of the word mercy, I realized something about pain. Pain is often a result of loneliness. It’s far more frequent to feel the pain of being alone than it is to feel the pain of a certain situation. In fact, having someone with us in our pain can drastically curb the pain that comes from circumstance. More often than not, the underlying desire is to be relived of loneliness.

God made himself so vulnerable, so little, so lonely in Jesus that he might identify with our loneliness and meet us in our pain. God becoming human was the ultimate act of mercy. You and I get to join God in his act of mercy through getting close enough to other human’s to feel their pain. We can only help do that for someone else when we realize that we have been relieved of our own loneliness. We must allow ourselves to get close enough to our own pain and let Jesus meet us in our time of need.

Verse 7 says we are blessed when we are merciful. What is the action in this statement of Jesus? Merciful is not the action, it is not the verb! “Blessed ARE the merciful…” The action is ARE, the action is TO BE. The emphasis of this “Your blessed” statement of Jesus is receptivity and not activity. Jesus is revealing to the crowd (and to us) that we will naturally respond with mercy the more open and vulnerable we are to receive God’s mercy.

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