The beatitudes cut counter to the wisdom of the age. This is a different kingdom. There is a genre of film called “revenge flicks.” When we watch those films, do we identify with the hero who gives out cold justice to the villain? Why don’t we see ourselves as the ones in need of mercy?
In the world, mercy is the domain of the powerful. The judge, the governor, the boss: they can give mercy. But this is a different kingdom. The King on the cross said, “Father forgive them,” and as the rocks rained down, Stephen prayed, “Father forgive them.” One might say, “Stephen you are in no position to grant mercy, you’re about to have your brains bashed in. YOU should be begging for mercy.”
When Jesus gives us the beatitudes, is he describing something real? Can we really live this way? In our discussion of work-life, you might protest and say, “hey, in the world of work and business, it’s cutthroat, it’s dog eat dog, and it’s winner take all.” If you don’t have that killer instinct, you’re going to be at a disadvantage. In short, you will lose.
However, one of the constant themes in Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom is that His Kingdom is greater, more powerful, and more enduring. So, if the work environment is so harsh, maybe it’s the perfect place to put mercy to the test. Yes, it takes faith to believe and walk in a mercy ethic: to forgive the wrongs done to us and seek the good of others, even our enemies.
Paul, who was among Stephen’s murderers, asserts that mercy is actually God’s strategy for turning the table on the world, and for overcoming evil.
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom 12:17-Rom 12:21 NIV see also Prov 25:21,22 (emphasis mine).
Let’s allow the Lord to make us a people who love mercy, so that we can show it. I believe that when we do, we open a window to heaven and strike a blow against the kingdom of darkness.
Adapted from Blessed2Bless: Applying the Timeless Wisdom of the Divine Entrepreneur to Your Life and Business.