Michael Youssef - Happiness is in You - Part 5
Mercy is not natural. Mercy is not natural. In fact, I can tell you the absolute truth from personal experience, firsthand experience, it is not natural. And that is why Jesus did not begin the Beatitudes by, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy". He did not start with that one because had he started with that Beatitude, it would have been an impossibility. It would have been a nonstarter. It would have been and ended the conversation right there before it began. It would have crippled the whole message of the Beatitudes, and that is why it stayed to be the fifth step.
Now, let me remind you, we started this series of messages from the Beatitudes. And I told you, and let me repeat, that this is a superstructure. This is a step-by-step program. This is not you can jump into one of those steps. Jesus was not just plucking stuff out of the air, "Blessed are you and blessed are you and blessed are you". No, no, no, he had them totally structured in such a way that you cannot go to the second step without going to the first one. And you cannot go to the third one without going through the second step. Why are these steps necessary? Well, I'm glad to answer because Jesus meets us where we are. Because Jesus leads us one step at a time. Because Jesus guides us up the ladder of the Christian life one rung at a time.
Now, I come to the fifth of this superstructure, fifth step, the fifth rung in that ladder where it takes us to truly a point of a breakthrough in becoming like Christ. No greater manifestation in imitating our heavenly Father than exercising mercy. Why am I saying this? Because our Lord is the paragon of mercy. Now, I don't know about you, you know and God knows, you might be seething on the inside in anger towards someone. You might have had an abuser back in your life and you're angry at that abuser. You might have been a victim of lies and innuendos. You may have been living with an unfaithful spouse, I don't know. You may be a person who have trusted someone who turned against you for no reason at all. You might have lost your job unfairly. You may have been deeply betrayed. You know and God knows.
But I want to tell you, whatever your situation is today, the Holy Spirit of God who we've celebrate this Sunday, can lead you up the ladder of exercising of mercy. The Roman society and the Roman culture that dominated the world back then, they despise mercy. Did you know that they despise mercy? In fact, they saw mercy as a mark of weakness, as a mark of weakness. The Pharisees, within Judaism inside the Roman Empire, they were different, of course, but the Pharisees who was listening to Jesus, they would say, "Okay, you show mercy only to the person who shows mercy to you". But even within that religious context, for example, a Roman philosopher called mercy the disease of the soul, the disease of the soul.
Mercy, back then, meant that you don't have what it takes to be a real Roman citizen, Roman man. It meant, because Rome glorified not only firm discipline, but they have glorified absolute power that takes no mercy. Roman men treated women and children the way we treat the unborn today, no mercy. Any society, any culture, I don't know whether it is before Christ or after Christ because any culture that Christ is not the center is a BC culture, is a before Christ culture. Whether any culture, whether before Christ or after Christ, where Christ is not at the center, that culture leans towards sentimentality, but not mercy.
I want you to look at the text Matthew 5:7. Now, if you're watching around the world, let me tell you, Matthew is the first book of the New Testament, chapter 5, verse 7. "Blessed, happy, joyous, in Greek makarios, are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy". Please heart me right. This is very important, very, very important. Jesus is not, he's not, he's not, he's not saying that if you show mercy to others, others are gonna show mercy to you. That, listen to me, read my lips, that's karma. That's Hinduism that's crept into our culture. No, no, no, no, that's not what he's saying at all. He is saying that when I show mercy to others, God's own mercy is gonna start flowing through me more and more.
And the more I show mercy, the more his mercy, it flows through me. It's like giving, and you've heard me say this many times, when you give generously, God gives you more, a whole lot more. Why? Because God is looking for conduits. God is looking for channels. The more mercy I show, the more God's mercy flows through me to show more mercy. The less merciful I am, the further away I place myself from the streams of mercy that comes from the Lord. Question, what is mercy? I know a lot of people confuse mercy and grace. Am I right? A lot of other people confuse mercy with forgiveness. Many others still confuse mercy with justice and they stumble over that one. Others confuse mercy with love. So, I am gonna answer that question in four ways.
First of all, mercy is more than forgiveness. Secondly, mercy is less than love. I put them this way for a reason. I'm gonna explain that in a minute so you get it. Thirdly, mercy is different from grace. They're two different things altogether. Fourthly, mercy is one with justice. Now, I selected this kind of way by which to communicate for a reason and when I get through it. you'll understand it. Mercy is more than forgiveness. How come? Well, Titus chapter 3, verse 5, the Word of God tells us that Jesus saves us, not on the basis of good works, but according to his mercy. What did his mercy prompted him to do? It prompted him to forgive our sins. As we repent of our sins, he washes us of our sins. He cleanses us, he forgives us, and he regenerates us. God's forgiveness of our sins flows out of his mercy, and his mercy is the source of his forgiveness.
Without mercy, there can be no forgiveness. That's why I say it is more than forgiveness. God is merciful. He's merciful. He's merciful to you, he's merciful to me. He's merciful all the time. Just you show mercy to someone you don't know, somebody who may never wrong you, and you show mercy to them, forgiveness becomes operational when the wrong is committed. But mercy is operational all the time. When you have mercy in your heart and the need arises, you meet it. Hear me right, please. Mercy leads to forgiveness. Mercy manifests itself in forgiveness. Mercy produces forgiveness and forgiveness occurs when hurt takes place. But mercy can be exercised under all circumstances, whether there's a need or not. God's mercy is more than forgiveness.
You see, mercy produces forgiveness when sin is committed. How do I know that you have a merciful heart? If I wronged you, said something against you, and I come back and say, "please forgive me," you immediately forgive me because you have a merciful heart. God's mercy reaches down beyond the forgiveness because being merciful all the time, his mercy reaches down all the way to our weaknesses, and we all have them, right? God's mercy reaches all the way down to our needs. God's mercy reaches down all the way to protect us. God's mercy reaches all the way to directing us and guiding our steps in life. So, mercy is more than forgiveness. Secondly, mercy is less than love.
In Ephesians 2:4 and 5, the Word of God said, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love for us, he loved us even when we were dead in our sins, he made us alive together with Christ". Just as I showed you that mercy is more than forgiveness, I want to show you that love is more than mercy. Love can be manifested in lots of ways, right, ways that can involve mercy or not involve mercy. It can involve forgiveness or not forgiveness, how? Love loves all the time. And love loves when there is no wrong done. Love loves even when there is no need expressed and needed help. Love loves all the time. The Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father, right? Neither can commit sin, neither can do wrong. They're perfect. But they love one another. Neither have needs, but they love each other.
Love is there always. The Father and the Son love the holy angels. The angels have no needs and they have no sin, and yet they're loved. When you and I go to heaven, we will not have sin and we will not have needs, but the Father and the Son continue to love us. So, love is continuous. Let me put it this way. Love generates mercy and mercy provides forgiveness. You want me to repeat that? Love generates mercy and mercy provides forgiveness. Love is manifested in mercy and mercy produces forgiveness. If mercy is the physician, love is the friend. Whether there is need or not, a friend is there. You got the physician when you need something. If mercy is for the times of trouble, love is a fact all the time.
Again, I want you to hear me right very carefully here. You and I can show mercy without loving, right? I walk in the street, I see somebody in need, I'll show mercy. I don't know the person. I want to explain this even further. Love is always constant, but mercy is as-need basis. Love is unconditional, but mercy is conditional on need. Our love for each other, as the body of Christ in this church, is always constant. You see it all over the place. But how do I know love is there? Well, as soon as need arises, mercy starts operating right away, jumps in there, work and moves into action. So, mercy more than forgiveness, but mercy is less than love. Thirdly, mercy is different from grace. A lot of people confuse this. You always say grace and mercy. Well, they're two different things. Grace and mercy are not the same.
The first thing you need to get under your belt is this, all of our problems, every one of them, every blessed one of our problems, every one of them stem, emanate from sin, every one. I don't care what it is. You look back, peel the onion, sin. All marital problems, all marital problems emanate from sin, every one of them. Selfishness, pride, start playing, trouble. All discord between any believers, all discord, any disunity, emanates from envy and jealousy and arrogance of any kind. Even our sicknesses and diseases, they entered into our world as a result of Adam and Eve sinning in the Garden. And that is why in all of our troubles, mercy comes in and gives us relief, but grace deals with the root of the problem.
In all of our troubles, mercy comes in and deals with the symptoms of our trouble, but grace deals with the cause of the trouble. All of our trouble, in all of our trouble, mercy offers reprieve from the punishment, but Grace offers complete pardon. Mercy relieves our pain, but grace cures our disease. When the Good Samaritan, everybody knows the story of the Good Samaritan, when the Good Samaritan, against all cultural norms, against all societal norms where Jews and Samaritans don't even have a dealing with each other, when a Good Samaritan sees a Jew bleeding to death, he comes in and he fixes his wounds, helps him out.
That is mercy. But when he put him on his mule, took him to the hospital, handed them his American Express card and he said, "Put all the charges on this card," that's grace. that's grace. See, mercy could have bound his wounds and then moved on, but grace went to the healing. That's grace. Mercy relieves the pain, but grace provides a healing. When we repent of our sins and receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, mercy says, "Now you are not going to hell". All the grace comes in and says, "You're going to heaven. You're going to heaven". Mercy says, "I feel sorry for you". But Grace says, "I pardon you". Mercy says, "I will overlook your failure". But Grace says, "I will remember them no more". And so, mercy is more than forgiveness. Mercy is less than love. Mercy is different from grace. Fourthly, mercy is one with justice.
Now, I'm gonna tell you something. If I know anything, some of you are gonna stumble over this one and I'm gonna tell you why. With so many false teaching going around from many a pulpit. You say, "Mercy is one with justice? How can that be? They're two opposites. They're opposed to each other. How can two opposing characteristics of God be one"? The Scripture is clear. Mercy that ignores sin is not mercy at all. Mercy that rationalize sin is not God's mercy. Mercy that refuses to deal with sin is sentimentality, not the mercy of God. Hear me right, please. To ignore justice is to desecrate mercy. I'm gonna repeat that. To ignore justice is to desecrate mercy. To ignore justice is to create an anarchy, which we're seeing now.
To ignore justice is to cheapen grace. To ignore justice is to deny what Psalm 85, verse 10 says, that justice and mercy belong together. You cannot have mercy without a price, you just can't. There are some people who think that they can receive God's mercy and go to heaven without repentance. They're going to be in for a huge shock. God's mercy is not only based on his love, but also based on his justice, on his justice. And that is why God himself paid the humungous, incalculable cost on the cross of Christ when his blood flowed freely on Calvary.
Listen to me, the good news of the gospel is this, the price of justice has been paid in full on the cross. That's the good news. So please, don't take mercy lightly. Don't take it lightly. For on that cross, God's justice was satisfied so that you and I, and you and you and you, can receive mercy. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy". They're gonna put themselves under the shower of receiving more mercy and more mercy and a stream flows through them. When you exercise mercy, your heart will be in such condition to receive more mercy and more mercy. Why? So, that you might be able to give more mercy and the more you give mercy, the more you receive more mercy and the closer you resemble your Lord Jesus Christ.
See, the more you imitate Jesus, the more Jesus you have in you. The more you imitate Jesus, the more Jesus is poured into you. And therefore, be a conduit of mercy. Be a channel for mercy. Therefore, do not block the channel of mercy by being merciless. For when you show mercy, you experience liberty. When you show mercy, you will be set free. When you show mercy, you will not be weighed down with unforgiveness and hatred and anger. When you exercise mercy, you will become unshackled from the emotional chains that hold you down. When you exercise mercy, you will become fruit-bearing, prosperous ministry, exercising ministry. When you're exercising mercy, you will be liberated from the darkness of bitterness.
Blessed, happy, joyful, makarios, are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. I believe with all my heart the great physician wants to operate on each one of us today. He wants to remove all of the blockages that's causing pain as a result of not exercising mercy. So, will you let him?