One of the principles that has guided my pastoral ministry is this truth, "Hurting people hurt people."
If you have spent more than a couple of days on Planet Earth you have been hurt by a hurting person or you have been guilty of hurting others in your painful periods.
Are you hurting? Are you suffering through a painful period of life?
Do you live with a hurting person? If so, you probably are hurting over not being able to help them plus the pain they inflict upon you by their hurtful behavior.
So, one of the challenges of ministry in a local church congregation is dealing with hurting people. The first challenge is, "How do I keep them from hurting others within the church?" and the second challenge is, "How do I help them deal with their pain?"
Fortunately, Jesus addresses this touchy topic in the fifth Beatitude and the answer will surprise you.
The word for "merciful" in the original language has the idea of being empathetic with the pain of others. Rather than hurting back when someone hurts you, try to understand his pain so you can be helpful to him.
I know that is counter-intuitive to our human nature, but think about the alternative. If you are hurt by a hurting person and you respond by hurting back it only escalates and intensifies the pain.
So, here is how this beatitude can be expressed in daily living, "when you get grief, give grace". When a hurting person hurts you, look for a way to help him.
Mercy is what God shows you and me. Mercy is the flip-side of grace. Grace gives kindness that isn't deserved and mercy withholds punishment that is deserved. Mercy was God withholding with wrath and judgment from us and grace was Jesus taking that wrath upon Himself.
Grace and mercy are the perfect resources for surviving in a world of hurting people. But, they are only available from the Holy Spirit through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Do you need mercy for today?
Jesus has it to give! Get Jesus and you get mercy!