September 11, 2020

Tender Mercy, Pure Heart

Matthew 5:7-12

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

—  Matthew 5:7-8

I find it hard to receive mercy. I beat myself up; I thank God for forgiving me, but I have trouble forgiving myself. I have learned, though, that Jesus invites me into the mercy circle: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Jesus is not saying that receiving mercy is a reward for being merciful. Rather, he is teaching us that receiving mercy becomes easier when we are merciful. The acts of receiving and showing mercy strengthen each other. As I share mercy, my own ability to receive ­mercy and also forgive myself become stronger.

Mercy is like a powerful detergent that purifies our hearts. And as the heart is purified, the eyes learn a new way of seeing. They come to see the presence of God in all kinds of unexpected places. The pure in heart “will see God,” Jesus declares.

With our hands open to receive mercy and a purified heart that refocuses our eyes, we grow to see all the people around us with God’s mercy, and we begin to appreciate how much he loves them, cares for them, and wants full life for them—for all of us!

Decades ago Christian singer Noel Paul Stookey (formerly of Peter, Paul, and Mary) recorded a gentle song called “Tender hands, softest eyes.” It captures some parts of Jesus’ teaching here beautifully. Tender hands and soft eyes become instruments of blessing that transmit the grace of God.

Lord, free me to receive your mercy, and purify my heart to share your grace everywhere. Amen.

About the author — Syd Hielema

Syd Hielema serves the Christian Reformed Church in North America as director of a ministry project called Connections II. He has also served with Faith Formation Ministries, as a professor of theology and youth ministry at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa, and as a chaplain and professor at Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ontario. Syd has been married to Evelyn for 43 years, and they enjoy bird watching near their home in Ancaster.

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