Jesus said, ““Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7). The Bible teaches that those people whom God has blessed the most abundantly were merciful to other people. Joseph was merciful to his brothers after they sold him into slavery. David spared Saul’s life after Saul tried to kill him. God delights in mercy, and as a Christian we have the privilege of showing mercy. We can show mercy by giving money to the poor, food to the hungry, or a bed to the homeless. “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8).
Jesus’ enemies accused Him falsely, beat Him, spat upon Him, cursed Him and nailed Him to a cross. But He still sought mercy for them, praying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus Christ demonstrated a perfect model on how to show mercy throughout His earthly ministry. He healed the sick and enabled the crippled to walk. He gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and speech to the mute. His redeeming love embraced sinners of all kinds. He wept with those in sorrow and comforted the lonely. He embraced little children and the elderly alike. His mercy was compassion in action! Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’” (Matthew 9:13).
When Stephen was being stoned, he pitied his wretched murderers, asking God to forgive them (Acts 7:60). Jesus did the same thing (Luke 23:34). That should be our attitude as well. “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:11). “The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh” (Proverbs 11:17). As Christians, if we’re to please God in our own life, we must show mercy to other people. We can show mercy by praying for the salvation of people who haven’t trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…pray for the salvation of our government leaders” (Matthew 5:44, 1 Timothy 2:1-4). St. Augustine said, “If I weep for that body from which the soul is departed, how should I weep for that soul from which God is departed?” We mourn over our loved ones who have died, but do we mourn as much for lost souls? “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:3-4).
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5). As the sovereign and independent Creator, God is not obligated to save anyone, nor is God obligated to show goodness and mercy toward sinners who deserve only condemnation. Since every person on this earth is governed by God’s law, He can demand that we show mercy to others, and that includes those who have sinned against us. Since we are obligated to imitate God, we should desire to imitate our Savior’s mercy.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). God’s mercy is undeserved. If we deserved it or could earn it, it wouldn’t be mercy. Mercy isn’t the same as grace; although they are similar in meaning, grace and mercy are not the same. The difference is: Mercy is not getting what we deserve; punishment is withheld. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve; unmerited favor. Mercy is God not punishing us for the sins we have committed, and grace is God blessing us even though we don’t deserve it. Mercy is deliverance from judgment. Grace is extending kindness to the unworthy sinners like ourself.
There’s an increasing level of hatred and violence in this ungodly world we live in; whether we like it or not, it’s there for all of us to see. This ungodly hatred has actually gotten into Jesus’ Church a lot more than us Christians like to admit. The word “mercy” is used 276 time in the NKJ Bible and 262 times in the KJV Bible. The Bible says about God’s mercy. “You, O Lord are a God full of compassion, gracious, long-suffering and abundant in mercy and truth…Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 86:15, 136). “Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
God’s commendation is upon those who show mercy, but His condemnation is upon those who are merciless. God said, “I was angry with My people…You showed them no mercy; on the elderly you laid your yoke very heavily” (Isaiah 47:6). “Let the iniquity of [the merciless person’s] fathers be remembered before the Lord, and do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out . . . because he did not remember to show [mercy]” (Psalm 109:14-16).
If someone wrongs us, fails to repay a debt, doesn’t keep their promises and etc., we’re to be merciful to them. That doesn’t mean we excuse sin, but we’re to respond with a heart of compassion. I know this isn’t easy to do, it’s hard! But as Christians we have an obligation to God to be obedient men and women. Jesus showed compassion to us, can we do any less for others? “Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yes, our God is merciful…the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (Psalm 116:5, James 5:11). Showing mercy, or no mercy, it’s our choice!