“God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7 (NLT)
One of the keys to a blessed life is found in the beatitude in Matthew 5:7 above. It provides Jesus’ answer to the question, “Why be merciful to others?” Other reasons for being merciful include: (1) God has shown me mercy, (2) God commands me to be merciful, (3) I’ll need mercy in the future, and (4) Showing mercy brings happiness. That raises the question, “How do I be merciful?” Some ways to be merciful include: (1) Be patient with people’s needs, (2) Help anyone hurting around me, (3) Give people a second chance, (4) Do good to those who hurt me, (5) Be kind to those who offend me, (6) Build bridges of love to the unpopular, and (7) Value relationships over rules. Which of these seven facets of mercy could I show today? How?
Open your group with a prayer. This is only a guide – select the points you want to discuss.
“Shouldn’t you have mercy on others, just as I had mercy on you?” Matthew 18:33 (NLT)
1. What does Matthew 18:33 above say about having mercy? How often are we to show mercy?
2. Have you experienced another showing you mercy? How did it make you feel?
“I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices.” Hosea 6:6 (NLT)
“So you must show mercy to others, or God will not show mercy to you…. But the person who shows mercy can stand without fear at the judgment.” James 2:13 (NCV)
3. Read both verses above. Why does God command us to be merciful? How important to God is it that we be merciful? Is this important to you? Discuss what challenges you have being merciful.
“Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because God is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:35-36 (NIV)
4. Read Luke 6:35-36 above and think of people who have hurt you or your loved ones. What can you do to show mercy to them? Do you find it easy or hard? Brainstorm ways in which you can make that first step towards showing mercy easier, so you can help yourself, as it states in Proverbs 11:17, “a merciful person helps himself.”
5. Look up Matthew 9:10-13 and have someone read it out loud. Reflect on your past and current relationships with individuals who you considered unpopular “scum” (as it says in the New Living Translation!). If you had the chance to do it again, share how you might implement “premeditated mercy” as a better alternative to how you interacted with that person. How might the results have been different? Think of a current person who fits the mold of unpopular; design a simple strategy of premeditated mercy you could implement and share that plan with the group.
6. Refer back to Hosea 6:6 above. Jesus references this verse twice signifying its importance in his ministry here on earth. Asking the Holy Spirit to guide you, think of a ministry that is needed in your community to build bridges of mercy and love for an “unpopular” group. Who would it reach out to? What service would it provide? How could that ministry of mercy lead others to know Christ? What could you role be in making this ministry happen?