What is Christian Living: Mercy and a Pure Heart
When you think of mercy what do you think of?
Mercy by definition: A compassion to one in need or helpless distress, or in debt and without claim to favorable treatment.
Would you be described as merciful? Is mercy a requirement to Christian living?
Join me in this episode as we explore mercy and a pure heart and how they apply to our life as a Christ follower.
When you think of mercy what do you think of?
With each of these Beatitudes – we’re noticing there’s a statement. A characteristic, a component of our life, an attitude – a lifestyle, an action however you want to call them out – there’s a promise associated with them.
Blessed are the poor in spirit – theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
Blessed are they that mourn – they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek – they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness – they shall be filled.
What promises!! I want the Kingdom of God. I want comfort. I want inheritance. I want to be filled. And that’s only four. These promises don’t speak of a God who is austere, distant, and restrictive. These speak of a God who is blessing, giving, compassionate, providing, and good.
Why would we not want to dive in receive an understanding to these paradoxical statements
The answer is WE DO – and We are.
We had our small group study the other day and we were talking about how intimidating the Word of God is when it comes to getting started. Just opening it and taking a step to get acquainted with it can feel impossible like a mountain to climb or a marathon that we don’t want to start training for. But actually getting started and developing consistency reveals to us, God wants to give us understanding, but that’s only going to come through dedication and faithfulness to time spent with him.
Today, we are moving on to our next couple of Beatitudes. Our intro asked, when you think of mercy what do you think of? My older brother was a wrestler. There were times he would try one of his wrestling moves on me. He said if I needed to get out I was supposed to say “Mercy,” and he would let go. That was a lie. I believed him, so when I said it and he didn’t instantly let me go I would frantically shout and scream mercy. Finally he released his hold, all the while laughing. Perhaps you think of something like this?
Or maybe you think of a beautiful grandmotherly type of woman in your life who no matter your mistakes, misgivings, slip ups – she’s always there to love on you and lift you up. Maybe you think something differently entirely?
Mercy by definition is defined as: a compassion to one in need or helpless distress, or in debt and without claim to favorable treatment.
That is a beautiful definition, isn’t it?
Often it seems like we live in a world that lacks mercy – like big time, so getting our mind wrapped around this idea, or this characteristic can unfortunately be a stretch.
Thinking of that definition, who in your life could be defined as merciful and what did they do that speaks mercy to you?
Our next Beatitude says, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”
Last episode we ended it be discussing how the more we hunger and thirst for righteousness, the closer we step toward God. The closer we are to God the more like Him we become. The more we become like Him the more we learn to forgive others. We start to gain understanding to what it means to be merciful, and develop a desire to extend it to others as God has extended it so graciously to us. As individuals, and we become this conduit of mercy.
Matthew 18 – Peter asks how many times to forgive. He expected there to be an end to mercy. Because why wouldn’t you? I mean fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me – right? As though there is a line that should not be crossed. But Jesus doesn’t operate that way. Thankfully, He does not operate that way. If He did we would all be up a creek – not a paddle in sight. If there is breath in our lungs there is a need for forgiveness and mercy. If we have a repentant heart – we can freely receive it.
Jesus’ response to Peter – “I tell you not seven times, but seventy times seven times:”
Say what? I’m not a math person, but I know enough to know 70*7 is 490 times. That is a lot of forgiveness and mercy being dished out.
We have zero tolerance when it comes to other’s shortcomings, but when it comes to our own we are expect it. And this isn’t something we can blame on our current cultural climate, this gets chalked up to our flesh, our own self, and it’s been happening since the beginning.
Read Matthew 7:3-5
“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
Why do you think we notice other people’s specks before we recognize our own planks?
I personally, don’t want to see my own short comings. Once I do that means I’m not perfect, and I have work to do. I don’t mind seeing yours because well, if I’m horizontally comparing myself to others, your short comings make me feel better about who I am. That’s horribly transparent but when we are living in our flesh that is an honest answer.
But NOT what God wants for us. Our natural response when we receive mercy should be to extend it to others.
Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone[a] who sins against me? Seven times?”
22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven![b]
23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.[c] 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars.[d] He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters[e] from your heart.”
This man did not understand the magnitude of mercy and forgiveness that had been poured out on him.
The same is true of us. This is a smack you in the face, knock the air out of your lungs sort of parable that is really uncomfortable to take in because we can easily connect to it, and see oh man, Jesus! I have done this same thing.
We don’t understand the magnitude of God’s mercy if we excuse ourselves from showing mercy to another (That’s a deep thought to consider). A thought for private reflection: Who are we refusing to show mercy to? Now consider this statement again.
When we are abiding in Christ our hearts can hear when God calls us to extend mercy.
It is because we understand the hurt we have caused which allows us to forgive those who have hurt us.
Self-righteousness, pride and lack of obedience are often what stand in our way.
It sounds so cliche to say but is so true, extending mercy to others is a gift we give others and also ourselves. When we get the courage to step into this space we realize another “level” of freedom. And it leads us directly into the next Beatitude which says –
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
I want to see God – don’t you?
Our outlook changes as our mind is transformed.
Romans 12:2 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
God can’t say it any more clear than that – BE NOT CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD.
This world says don’t be merciful. Hate others who think differently then you. Don’t associate with them, don’t go to dinner with them, absolutely do not become a friend to them. We are seeing this sad spiral as we watch this mentality taking over our country right now.
But God says no, our outlook needs to be changed. He wants to transform our mind. When we allow Him to transform our mind something amazing happens as He purifies our heart, and softens it from the stone that it used to be.
A pure heart is a requirement to be a disciple.
The heart is a big deal to God – Scripture mentions it over 700 times.
The heart according to scripture is the core of who we are, our thoughts, feelings, our mind – our center. When we read this Beatitude again keeping this definition in mind the depth of this statement stretches substantially. It’s more than a vital organ pumping life throughout our body.
With this understanding, “Blessed are the pure in heart,” goes beyond our initial thought. Rephrase:
Blessed are the pure in thought.
Blessed are the pure in will.
Blessed are the pure in emotion.
Becoming a new creation is a process that lasts our entire life. We must die to our sin natures, change our thinking and begin responding to the Holy Spirit’s promptings.
We must learn to crucify our sinful desires in order to gain strength over them. Sin should not dominate us, we must allow God to dominate it.
As we allow this to happen, we are transformed from glory to another glory as we allow the Holy Spirit to take over. As he takes us from Glory to Glory He reveals more and more of Himself to us.
What does a pure heart look like?
(Undivided, unmixed, unadulterated, sifted, genuine, and real NOTHING added.)
Purification of our hearts is done through the gift of salvation. It’s done by both God and us.
Jesus paid the price and gave us our identity, and we must develop the skills we need to function maturely.
Hebrews 10:14 AMP – For by the one offering He has perfected forever and completely cleansed those who are being sanctified [bringing each believer to spiritual completion and maturity].
He wants to bring us to spiritual completion and we have to be willing to grow.
Is this sanctification a one and done action or a process? How do we know?
We mentioned in the first lesson Jeremiah 17:9 which says the heart is deceitful above all things – desperately wicked. Who can know it?
Friends this is a life long journey. We are going to slip up, we’re going to run into strongholds in our mind that are hard for us to push through, things we don’t want to push through and we may stall out for a little bit as God helps us build up the courage to tear things down and allow him to reshape and remold us — this is not a process for the faint of heart, but it is a process that is vital to each and everyone of us.
Question: How do we go from a deceitful heart to a pure heart?
A religious mind obeys God’s word because God says so. We want to go a step further than that.
Someone with a pure heart experiences a dissipation of fleshly desires for sin and instead finds joy in abiding in Christ. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
I used to smoke cigarettes. I remember I used to smoke one just to help me relax or zone out. One day I felt true conviction and was absolutely ready to hand them to a confidant in exchange for a deeper relationship with Jesus, that was a vulnerable moment. It was vital and so liberating to allow that dissipation of that fleshly desire to smoke to be rid from my body and exchange it for a new joy and a closer walk with Jesus. There have been so many other exchanges along my path, and I’m sure there are others to come. Sin besets us from Jesus. Sin and Holiness do not dwell together, so every sin we allow God to remove from our life the closer we are and the more we can abide in who He is.
Proverbs 4:23 says to guard our heart.
Question: what does that mean to you?
For me in means, pay attention. Don’t live life going through the motions. Too often I find this is the case for me, and if I’m not deliberate about guarding my heart sin can begin tiptoeing in. I can begin making allowances for different thoughts or ideas that may not be what God desires in my life.
Guarding my heart means I get up every morning and I talk to him first. I get in the word everyday. I may not understand what I’ve read every day, but I’m in it because I know He has promised understanding comes through the word. My faith comes by hearing the Word. My faith is activated by doing, and my relationship grows and my trust in him more solidified when I walk daily with Him. and I can recognize those places where I’m not guarding my heart more easily when these are part of my daily living.
Matthew 23:25, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter but within they are full of extortion and excess.”
We can’t just look the part, and this Beatitude says that loud and clear. We have to allow our heart to be purified, our mind, our will and emotions. Emotions on their own can be a big task to purify.
How does this Beatitude relate to the others?
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
When I look at these, I can honestly say, my heart isn’t ready to be purified until I’ve allowed God to begin working in these other areas, wouldn’t you agree?
Question to take with us today and consider over the week – >
How does living this out, look when it comes to our neighbors, coworkers, family, friends.
These beatitudes involve some choices for us to make, are we willing to step closer?
I can’t wait to study this out with you on the next episode. Until then, thank you for listening to the She Chooses Podcast where we work together to Harness this gift of free will, one choice at a time.