Beatitudes 6 - How do you treat people?

Beatitudes part 6

Matthew 5 verse 7

Beatitudes part 6
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.

The first four Beatitudes are dealing with our insides and the next four are about how we deal with those around us.  

The Greek word for mercy in this context means – to help the wretched, to relive their misery.

So, we can compare mercy to compassion, we have compassion for those who are wretched, we want to help relive their misery. 

As a Christian I can feel compassion for those who are in hopeless situations, I can watch the news and feel great compassion for those whose lives are in great trouble. 

But Mercy is more than just a feeling of compassion – it’s an action.   

This is illustrated in the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus told the story in order to illustrate who our neighbour is.  Jesus has told the expert in the law, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’  so if the first four laws are about how we are to be inside, then we need to apply those to our neighbour as well. 

The expert in the law wanted to know who our neighbour is.  The Jews weren’t supposed to mix with those who were different to them, but Jesus turned this upside down.  Jesus wanted our neighbours to be everyone, no matter of creed, colour, or where they were born, or what they believed. 

Jesus asked the man, which of these three (in the story of the Good Samaritan) was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? 

The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’

In the story of the Good Samaritan – it wasn’t just a feeling of compassion, it was an act of mercy. 

The man was in a hopeless state, he was in a state of misery, he needed help.  Practical help. 

The other two that passed him by might have felt compassion for him, but they had no mercy for him. 

God wants us to treat people with mercy, to feel compassion for them and to act on that compassion. 

That is the first part of mercy is compassion the second part of mercy is forgiveness.  Mercy is the love of God that forgives, God forgives those that had done wrong. 

Who is the person that has shown the greatest mercy in history?  Jesus came to show us how to live and part of that was how to be merciful, and forgiving. 

How did Jesus treat the woman caught in adultery? He didn’t condemn her or judge her, he didn’t condemn those who were going to stone her, he just asked a simple question that caused everyone to rethink.  Did those who were condemning her have anything they needed mercy for? Had they ever done anything that needed forgiving? Jesus treated the woman with compassion, with mercy, with forgiveness. 

On the cross, Jesus hadn’t forgotten the reason he was here on earth.  To the very end he had compassion, mercy and forgiveness.

‘Father forgive them’ he asked God to forgive them.. to have mercy on them. 

God doesn’t want us to forgive to be forgiven, he doesn’t want us to be merciful because we want mercy, he wants us to do it with the right motives, if we are full of God’s love, mercy and compassion we will re-act to our neighbours because we are moved from our heart.  We will feel it and want to act. 

Do we feel compassion from deep inside us? Do we know who are neighbours are? Do we feel God’s love surrounding us, moving us to act?

Matthew 25 : 45 I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.

This is our calling as Christians to treat everyone as if they were Jesus.  

Ask the children if Jesus were right there in the room how would you respond (react or treat him) like he was a very important person? Or like he didn’t matter.
How we treat people really does matter.  We are told to treat people the way we want to be treated.  How do you want to be treated?
Think about yesterday, think about all the things that happened to you.  Were there times you smiled and felt happy why? How did people treat you yesterday and how did it make you feel?
God wants us to treat everyone as if they were our neighbour and to treat them with compassion and mercy; that means if someone is really horrible to us, think about why they might be that way?  Is there a way we can make them feel better?  
Today I would act out the story of the Good Samaritan with the children.  It’s a good story that helps them to think about how they would act, and you could have a discussion about what you could do if you found someone all beat up.  For example ringing 999.  But don’t put yourself in danger. 
A time of reflection at the end of the session praying for all those we don't know that are still our neighbours.  (Important at this time with discussions of refugees in the headlines)  

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About Michelle Bailey

Reverend Michelle Bailey is the Rural Officer for the Bishop of Brecon and Swansea  She previously worked in Children's Ministry and was ordained in the Church of England. Her blog includes ideas on presenting concepts of faith to young children to the age of eleven and furthering faith development in an educational context. Michelle currently lives in Wales and is also developing a rural ministry blog.
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