This fifth of eight Beatitudes marks a transition between an emphasis on inner spirituality to the outward expression of faith.
In sharing these spiritual principles Jesus is telling you what it takes to gain God's approval and presence. Let's review:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit" - God approves when you comprehend and confess your utter absolute spiritual depravity.
"Blessed are they who mourn" - God approves when you come to grips with your sinfulness and it breaks your heart.
"Blessed are the meek" - God approves when out of your sense of powerless over sin you surrender to His sovereignty and rest in His will.
"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled" - God approves when you have emptied yourself to Him so He can fill you with His righteousness and give you the appetite to crave more.
So, the promise of His righteousness is clear but what is the evidence of His filling?
"Blessed are the merciful" - God approves when you, having experienced His mercy and grace, express that mercy to others. The first outward evidence of His righteousness is mercy for others.
This spiritual virtue is unique in that to get it you must give it to others. If you want mercy you must be merciful!
Being merciful requires sympathy, the ability to connect with the hardships of others. And being merciful required empathy, the desire to actually identify with the pain of others. But mercy goes beyond sympathy and empathy, it gets involved to share the pain while trying to solve the problem.
A simple way to think of mercy is this, "Mercy gives someone grace when that someone gives you grief."
Or, another way to express mercy, "Mercy tries to help someone who is trying to hurt you." Mercy asks, "I wonder what is hurting him that would cause him to want to hurt me?"
"Blessed are the merciful......."
Who needs mercy from you?
Who is trying to hurt you? Do you know how you can help him?