As we begin to be conformed to the image of Jesus in our search for power, we also begin to realize how He exercised the authority that was given to Him. We begin to see things as He sees them, and to respond to people and situations with the mercy and compassion that characterizes the heart of God in His dealings with us. In another section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructs us that as we give mercy to those around us, particularly those who are undeserving of it, we begin to demonstrate our intimate relationship with God as our Father, who is merciful and kind to those who are wicked and ungrateful.
Being merciful to evil and unthankful people does not seem like the way to greatness, at least to those who are accustomed to living in the me-first, cut-throat world of contemporary culture. But we must be reminded that mercy is the way of God, and He is the one who defines all things. It is He who gives power to those who wait upon Him and are conformed to His ways. His promise to those who become merciful is that they will receive mercy, both for their own situations, and as a resource to give away to those who need it.
The reason that mercy is such an essential dynamic in God’s Kingdom is that it provides a context in which people can truly be transparent about the condition of their hearts and lives. In the New Testament letter to the Hebrews, the writer provides a profound understanding for the context of mercy established by God on our behalf. Citing the temptations that Jesus faced as a man on the earth, we are told that these pressures made Jesus to be compassionate and merciful toward the rest of us when we face such things.
Because Jesus is sympathetic due to His own experience of testing, we can come into the presence of God in the confidence of full self-disclosure knowing that the first thing that awaits us is mercy, not condemnation. Therefore, as we experience mercy as the first result of encountering God, we become those who give mercy to those we encounter, thereby opening a way for them to be transparent about the things that concern them. The freedom to be real and transparent in a non-defensive way is integral to spiritual growth and lasting change, and the extending of mercy as the first response sets the context for that growth.
When God finds people who are becoming merciful, He extends even greater mercy to them. One of the great dynamics of the Kingdom of God is that whatever one gives away is returned to them in greater measure. In Luke 6:38, just a few lines after Jesus instructs us about mercy, He further teaches that what we give will be returned to us, compressed and increased in proportion to how we gave it. Though we have mostly applied that principle to the giving of finances, He is talking primarily there about mercy and forgiveness. As we become conformed to the character of His Kingdom, we become recipients of the graces of His Kingdom. We give mercy to those who need it, setting in motion the release of additional mercies to us, both in our areas of need and as a resource to share with others.