Sabbath, February 4, 2012
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7.
“The heart of man is by nature cold and dark and unloving; whenever one manifests a spirit of mercy and forgiveness, he does it not of himself, but through the influence of the divine Spirit moving upon his heart. ‘We love, because He first loved us.’ 1 John 4:19, R.V.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 21, 22.
God is merciful
1. What is present in a person in whom Christ has come to dwell?
1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
“The merciful are ‘partakers of the divine nature,’ and in them the compassionate love of God finds expression. All whose hearts are in sympathy with the heart of Infinite Love will seek to reclaim and not to condemn. Christ dwelling in the soul is a spring that never runs dry. Where He abides, there will be an overflowing of beneficence.
“To the appeal of the erring, the tempted, the wretched victims of want and sin, the Christian does not ask, Are they worthy? but, How can I benefit them? In the most wretched, the most debased, he sees souls whom Christ died to save and for whom God has given to His children the ministry of reconciliation.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 22.
2. Why does God care so much for us?
Exodus 34:6, 7 And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
“God is Himself the source of all mercy. His name is ‘merciful and gracious.’ Exodus 34:6. He does not treat us according to our desert. He does not ask if we are worthy of His love, but He pours upon us the riches of His love, to make us worthy. He is not vindictive. He seeks not to punish, but to redeem. Even the severity which He manifests through His providences is manifested for the salvation of the wayward. He yearns with intense desire to relieve the woes of men and to apply His balsam to their wounds. It is true that God ‘will by no means clear the guilty’ (Exodus 34:7), but He would take away the guilt.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 22.
Mercy in practice
3. How do the Scriptures define and describe acts of mercy?
Job 29:12-16 Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.
Proverbs 19:17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
“The merciful are those who manifest compassion to the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 22.
“There never was a time when there was greater need for the exercise of mercy than today. The poor are all around us, the distressed, the afflicted, the sorrowing, and those who are ready to perish.” –Welfare Ministry, p. 15.
“How many who profess to be followers of Christ climb upon the judgment seat, and pronounce condemnation, magnifying some fault which to finite beings seems to be an offense against God! But this work, that is so pleasing to the great adversary of souls, would all cease if the Spirit of Christ were in the heart. Mercy rejoices not in iniquity.” –The Signs of the Times, September 19, 1895.
4. How does God show His love and mercy to lost sinners?
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Romans 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
“There are many to whom life is a painful struggle; they feel their deficiencies and are miserable and unbelieving; they think they have nothing for which to be grateful. Kind words, looks of sympathy, expressions of appreciation, would be to many a struggling and lonely one as the cup of cold water to a thirsty soul. A word of sympathy, an act of kindness, would lift burdens that rest heavily upon weary shoulders. And every word or deed of unselfish kindness is an expression of the love of Christ for lost humanity.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 23.
Sowing and reaping
5. For good or bad, we reap what we sow. Describe some real life experiences demonstrating this law.
Psalm 41:1-3 Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.
“The merciful ‘shall obtain mercy.’ ‘The soul of blessing shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.’ Proverbs 11:25, margin. There is sweet peace for the compassionate spirit, a blessed satisfaction in the life of self-forgetful service for the good of others. The Holy Spirit that abides in the soul and is manifest in the life will soften hard hearts and awaken sympathy and tenderness. You will reap that which you sow.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 23.
“Jesus showed His disciples that only as they should partake of His Spirit, and be assimilated to His merciful character, would they be endowed with spiritual discernment and miraculous power. All their strength and wisdom must come from Him. When dealing with obstinately offending members, the holy men of the church were to follow the directions laid down by Christ; this, the only course of safety for the church, has been traced step by step by the apostles with the pen of inspiration.” –Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, p. 246.
6. What did the apostle Paul say about those who are merciful and generous? How are their needs supplied?
Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Psalm 112:4-6 Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man showeth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion. Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.
“He who has given his life to God in ministry to His children is linked with Him who has all the resources of the universe at His command. His life is bound up by the golden chain of the immutable promises with the life of God. The Lord will not fail him in the hour of suffering and need. ‘My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 4:19. And in the hour of final need the merciful shall find refuge in the mercy of the compassionate Saviour and shall be received into everlasting habitations.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 24.
7. How does this law apply even to our thoughts? What will be the effect of sinful thoughts?
Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
“The merciful shall find mercy, and the pure in heart shall see God. Every impure thought defiles the soul, impairs the moral sense, and tends to obliterate the impressions of the Holy Spirit. It dims the spiritual vision, so that men cannot behold God. The Lord may and does forgive the repenting sinner; but though forgiven, the soul is marred. All impurity of speech or of thought must be shunned by him who would have clear discernment of spiritual truth.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 302.
Only Jesus saves
8. What is the result of trying to cover up sin? But what is the result of confessing and forsaking it?
Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
“The conditions of obtaining mercy of God are simple and just and reasonable. The Lord does not require us to do some grievous thing in order that we may have the forgiveness of sin. We need not make long and wearisome pilgrimages, or perform painful penances, to commend our souls to the God of heaven or to expiate our transgression; but he that confesseth and forsaketh his sin shall have mercy.
“The apostle says, ‘Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.’ James 5:16. Confess your sins to God, who only can forgive them, and your faults to one another. If you have given offense to your friend or neighbor, you are to acknowledge your wrong, and it is his duty freely to forgive you.” –Steps to Christ, p. 37.
“Shall we not regard the mercy of God? What more could He do? Let us place ourselves in right relation to Him who has loved us with amazing love. Let us avail ourselves of the means provided for us that we may be transformed into His likeness, and be restored to fellowship with the ministering angels, to harmony and communion with the Father and the Son.” –Steps to Christ, p. 22.