We cannot even state the definition of mercy as we have done here without thinking at once of the cross of Jesus Christ. For it is here that God has acted out of grace in mercy to fallen, sinful man. In fact, God acted so completely at the cross that there is a sense in which mercy can be seen by a sinful man only there. In his sinful, fallen state man could do nothing to save himself, so God stepped forward to do everything that needed to be done for man.

In yesterday’s study, we noted that the first three beatitudes show how a person must see himself as a sinner before God—that of being spiritually bankrupt, sorry for sin, and meekly humble. Then, in the fourth beatitude, we find the promise of God’s righteousness for the one who comes to God in the ways described in those preceding beatitudes. We said that, given this progression, it is logical to expect that the beatitudes to follow will show the transformed life that marks the one being remade in Christ’s image.

I was once speaking with one of my friends about the relationship of Christian teaching to Christian conduct. He wanted to write an article about how doctrine and devotion are related, and I agreed with his idea wholeheartedly. When it comes to Christian teaching, what you believe does affect how you live. And if it does not, something is terribly wrong spiritually. 

It would be eternally sad if you should turn from the one who guarantees satisfaction to things that will never satisfy long! How blessed if you should return to the Father through the way he had told you to come, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and should thereby find his satisfaction.

The third point of advice in Christ's statement about how to discover God's righteousness is that a man must desire it intensely. In Christ's words he must “hunger and thirst after righteousness” if he is to be filled. Oh, how quickly these words pierce to the spiritual heart of a man! And how quickly do they separate real spiritual hunger from mere sentimentality and vaguely religious feeling!