Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. – Luke 6:36
An old friend and I stood side by side in her kitchen preparing lunch for our mixed brood. We laughed as we shared stories about ways our children tried to garner our sympathy.
“My children should know better. Mercy is just not my gift,” my friend laughed.
And? So? I wanted to ask. Because that’s not the point.
I knew from experience my friend had her strengths but was correct in her assessment of her level of mercy: zilch. It’s true some people are naturally merciful, and others aren’t. Sometimes you see this among parents, for whom one balances out the other. (I’ll resist gender bias here.) But mercy is more than a character trait. It’s a command.
By definition, mercy is compassion or forgiveness displayed toward someone who deserves anything but. The Christian world defines mercy as not getting what you do deserve, with its cohort grace being getting what you don’t deserve.
We, as sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), deserve God’s wrath.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. – Ephesians 2:4-7
God is love (1 John 4:8), so it’s no stretch to say the absence of love is the absence of God. Mercy is a response to love. God is also the author of mercy.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. – James 3:17
Failing to act in mercy, then, is ungodly, unfruitful and unwise. It is a rejection of a good and perfect gift from above (James 1:17). And isn’t a rejection of something of God also equal to a rejection of Him – if not in all then in part?
Reaping and Sowing
A move, a church change and grown children have caused me to lose touch with my friend, but I suspect she has since encountered at least one time when she has sought mercy. How can I safely assume this? Because, again, we all have sinned, and because we tend to reap what we sow. And the reaping can be a painful reminder of what we have sown.
For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. – James 2:13
How reassuring it is when a friend or loved one empathizes with you, overlooks a slight or stands in the gap with you. And how very lonely and bitter it is when compassion runs cold.
Receiving a Blessing
Do you, like my old friend, pride yourself in your lack of mercy? I encourage you to examine your heart before God and repent so you can be blessed as you become a blessing to others.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. – Matthew 5:7
To whom can you show mercy today? Ask the Lord to open a door in your heart and your life. He will bless. I know this, because He keeps His promises.