“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Reference: Matthew 5:7 )
[From May 3th until May 8th, beloved, I am visiting family. I have written these commentaries far ahead and hope they are appropriate to the times for which they appear. If I have not addressed an important issue of the day, it is only because writing so far ahead does not allow me to foresee what has come to pass.]
It seems like a very ipso facto thing – show mercy to others and mercy will be shown to you. And in theory that should work; but in reality it is not always so. There is a picture and a story that illustrates this. A historic Anabaptist believer was trying to escape from his persecutor. He was fleeing along a frozen patch of ice; he made it across safely, but his chaser fell through. Safe on the other side, the historic Anabaptist believer went back and saved the life of the one who sought to chase and capture him. Mercy was not shown, because he was put to death.
But if mercy was not rewarded between the historic Anabaptists and their accusers, then it was more imperative that mercy be shown amongst the believers. One issue that mercy was applicable to was discipline within the new Anabaptist church. Menno Simons spoke to this issue, and bringing to mind the story of the Good Samaritan when he said, “I say with our faithful brother, Dirk Philips, that we should not use the ban to the destruction of mankind as the Pharisees did their Sabbath, but to its improvement, and we desire to serve the bodies of the fallen in love, reasonableness, and humility, with our temporal goods when necessary, and their souls with the spiritual goods of the holy Word. We would rather with the good Samaritan show mercy to the wounded than to pass him by with the priest and Levite. James says, For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy, and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. Be ye therefore merciful as your Father also is merciful. Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.”
To look at it another way, and paraphrase/anticipate what Simons is saying, it is bad enough that we are accused, persecuted, tortured, and put to death by civil and state religious leaders. Let us not inflict punishment on one another. To our brother/sister who has erred and gone astray, let us bring them back to fellowship through love, compassion, and mercy desiring above all things to be in communion together again. Selah!