Mercy is a sister to justice. It is difficult to have one without the other. Mercy is also a mother to forgiveness. Without it, we would demand and be demanded to pay unfair compensation for our mistakes. And mercy is to man what grace is to God. Just as God is gracious so man must be merciful. Who then can be merciful? The people that foster a “blessed” or “makarioi” attitude can be merciful and dispense grace, the most precious gift man desperately needs.
Fear is respect and it has to be taught. Moses was instructed to teach it to the children (Deut. 4:10). The leaders were to be guided by the fear of the Lord (Lev. 25:43). Without fear justice would be perverted, favoritism and partiality would become a way of life (Lev. 19:15). Jethro, Priest of the Most High and father-in-law to Moses gave this advice regarding a criterion for leadership, “But select capable men from all the people - men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain - and appoint them as officials over the people" (Ex. 18:21). The fear of God was a thermometer to Israel and it should be one to us. Moses warned his people that when they stop fearing God, they would experience the plagues of Egypt and be scattered among the nations (Deut. 28:15-68). After the death of Joshua, whom Moses had selected and appointed as leader, Israel no longer feared the Lord. Israel did evil in his sight of God (Jud. 2:10). The nation would do well under God fearing men like Samuel and David and poorly under godless leaders. The historians repeatedly cited the cause as a lack of fear in the Lord (II Ki. 17:25-34). Ultimately, Israel was plagued by invasions and carried off into captivity never to return. Later, Judah suffered the same fate; but a remnant was allowed to return and rebuilt the land. Christianity that seeks to bypass God’s Law shall face a similar fate (Ro. 11:22).
“Blessed Are Those that hunger and thirst after Righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Mt. 5:6). Jesus was not talking about righteousness or righteous people, but about those that were harmed and hurt without recourse. They were then and shall always be the victims of a justice system that is blinded by convenience and reciprocation. It is extremely difficult for a judge with a beam in his eyes to render justice to a victim that is guilty of a speck. Such an act is throwing what is holy to those that are not, and when it is their turn to be judged they will turn on their own judge and destroy him (Mt. 7:1-6). Justice is a two-edged sword. The rules a judge uses in sentencing shall also be used to sentence him (Mt. 7:2). The dispensing of grace in justice is one of the most difficult tasks.
Being merciful has a tremendous affect on a community. One kind act can mushroom into a multitude of kind deeds. According to James, by helping one member correct his erring ways, we cover a multitude of sins (Ja. 5:20). Jesus held that to return just one lost individual to his community brings joy in heaven (Lk. 15:1-10). It is not that these erring individuals deserve the mercy of a community, but that the community heals them by being merciful. For as long as one of its own is in disrepute, the entire community bears his stain. Paul the apostle urged the Corinthians to restore the offender to avoid further disaster and more serious consequences (II Cor. 2:5-11). By keeping the offender within the community, they could keep him from further hurting others and himself.
Jesus statement, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” is a prediction based on historical events. It is in brief the story of the small farmer. He is timid, submissive and defenseless. The high and the mighty enslave him, take his land and exploit it until it becomes unproductive. Then, they let the meek man return to a wasteland and have him rebuild it. The Hebrews had a law that limited exploitation to fifty years (Lev. 25). The Hebrews also stopped driving out the conquered people because they need farmers to teach them the trade and then the natives ended up as masters. The meek are the masters of the earth. They have the patience and endurance to subdue the earth and become dispensers of grace (Gen. 1:26).