“God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7 NLT)
Grouped together, Matthew 5:5–7 serve as a callback to another passage. Jesus – in his subtle manner that screams loudly to any who have ears to hear it – is reminding his audience of Micah 6:8, “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” (NIV). Verse 5 is about humility, verse 6 is justice, and the final verse in this set is mercy.
Taken on their own, Matthew 5:5–7 could be read as a list of attributes that must be acquired, like merit badges to be worn as proof of our inner character. Yet Micah 6:8 reminds us that this is not a list of character traits but of actions. We must walk humbly, act justly, and love mercy. To simply project humility misses the mark; we must live lives of humility. To only hunger for justice is not enough; it must be practiced. To be people of mercy we must actively show mercy to others.
To be a people who show mercy is not easy. On our own, without any outside help, it is difficult to set aside our personal grievances and our high-minded sense of justice – which is often heavy on retribution and light on reconciliation and correction – but it is necessary to do this to make room for mercy to have reign in our hearts. Jesus encourages us that when we show mercy, it will also be shown to us, and the Holy Spirit empowers us to put it into action.