I’m such a lousy golfer that sometimes I will give one of my playing partners a very generous ‘gimme putt’ early in the round. In other words, I’ll give them a three or four-footer. And then I’ll smile and very piously say, “Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.’” With the motive of pure selfishness, I recite the words of Jesus hoping that by me being merciful to them, that later in the round when I am facing a three or four-foot knee knocker, they will be merciful to me!
Now, of course, I realize that nothing in Jesus’ teaching ever implies selfishness. But, it is a fact of life that the person who tends to be compassionate, kind, loving, forgiving and merciful with their fellowman will tend to receive the same in return. And the person who tends to be hard and judgmental and unforgiving with their fellowman tends to receive the same kind of harsh and unforgiving attitude in return.
In 2004, there were some Baptist churches in Oklahoma that were greatly moved by the devastation of the Tsunami in Southeast Asia. And so, they took up a huge offering and sent it to churches in Thailand to help those members recover, and to help them minister to others as they shared the love of Christ with those in need. Obviously, those churches in Oklahoma had no thought of receiving anything in return. Then, in May of 2013, when a devastating tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma, you can imagine the stunned surprise of those churches in Oklahoma when they received a very generous gift from those same churches in Thailand who had been the beneficiary of their mercy and compassion in their time of need. The Oklahomans were especially moved because they knew the churches in Thailand didn’t have much money. Yet, when they sent that offering, the leader of the churches in Thailand said, “When one part of the body of Christ suffers, we all suffer.” Mercy given is often mercy received. “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.”