Updated: Jul 5, 2020
Bible Reading Luke 6:36 and Matthew 9:9-13
The number one attribute that is used to describe God in the Bible is his mercy.
In Exodus 34:6-7 “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin”
What is Mercy?
According to Cambridge dictionary, mercy is kindness that makes you forgive someone, usually someone that you have authority over.
According to dictionary.com, mercy is compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy or other person in one's power.
In other words, mercy is not getting what you deserve; it’s letting someone off the hook. Letting them go and not counting their sins against them.
The above two definitions give us an understanding of what mercy is. However, I will try to define mercy as used and shown in the Bible as it relates to us.
The biblical word mercy has a deep meaning that includes kindness and goodness. Christians are not to be cruel—harsh, uncaring and cold—but are to be defined by warmth and kindness in how they treat others. Mercy is one of the essential characteristics of Christianity according to the teachings of Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:7).
In the Bible, God’s mercy means His pity, compassion, and kindness towards the people. God mercy means not giving us what we deserve.
According to the Bible, we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). As a result of that sin, we all deserve death (Romans 6:23) and eternal judgment in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:12-15). Given what we deserve, every day we live is an act of God’s mercy. If God gave us all what we deserve, we would be condemned for eternity.
Our God expects us to be merciful because He is a merciful father. Mercy is so important that God instructed us to bind it around our necks and write it upon the tablet of our hearts (Proverbs. 3:3).
The Bible says God desires mercy and not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6). Why did God make this statement? The Israelites at that time were more interested in bringing sacrifices to the altar and not showing mercy. They missed what God really wanted and still want us to do. They missed a deep and close relationship with him; this involves being merciful to others as God is a merciful father.
Our Lord Jesus delivering his Sermon on the Mount said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7). He also gave us a simple command to be merciful, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke6:36)”. We can clearly see that our Lord commanded us to be merciful to everybody not just Christians and those we know.
However, I would like to quickly differentiate between mercy and Grace as people tend to confuse one with the other.
Mercy and grace are closely related but are not exactly the same. Let’s take a look, at this analogy
On a sunny Friday, the weather was good, and it was a good time to get sunshine especially as it has been raining all week. So, you went for a ride playing loud music and tearing down the street. All of a sudden you saw that flashing blue light. You know what that means isn’t it? The police
Immediately you knew you messed up because you have been driving too fast. You look at the speedometer and you were doing 40miles an hour in 20 miles an hour zone.
The Police officer pulled you over as you were expecting to be judged. But instead of giving you a fine, he just told you off. He didn’t give you a fine nor did he give you a point on your license. That is mercy; not paying for your sin/mistake
When talking about Grace, he didn’t only let you off, he gave you a card for a free coffee at Costa. Although he didn’t condone what you did but showed you mercy and then also gave you a gift. That is grace.
Mercy has to do with kindness and compassion; it is often spoken of in the context of God’s not punishing us as our sins deserve. Grace includes Mercy and more. Grace is kindness and compassion, but also carries the idea of bestowing a gift or favour. Salvation is a perfect example of Grace.
In Scripture, mercy is often equated with a deliverance from judgment (Deuteronomy 4:30-31, 1 timothy 1:13), and grace is always the extending of a blessing to the unworthy. Like the way God showed mercy by allowing Christ to die for our sins and also reconciling us back to him. Giving us salvation which we didn’t deserve.
With mercy, you don’t get what you deserve.
With grace, you get what you don’t deserve.
Why do we need to show mercy?
God is merciful.
Jesus said, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
Before you judge others for their sins and failures, remember how many times God has forgiven you. When it seems inconvenient to help somebody in need, stop and remember how God came to your rescue you when you were hurting. When you think about those people who try your patience, stop and remember how patient God has been with you. When you feel like getting even with somebody who has been unkind or unfair to you, stop and remember how kind God was to you when you were his enemy (Romans 5:10).
God commands us to show mercy
The Bible says God wants us to love mercy (Micah 6:8). This mean we are told not to only show mercy but love to show mercy. This means mercy must be something we are willing to show every time even before anyone asks us for it.
If you show others mercy, the Lord will also show you mercy. The Gospel clearly states that God will judge people the same way they have judged others throughout their lives
We show mercy in order to receive mercy
The Bible says “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy (Matthew 5:7)
The Bible also says “With the merciful you show yourself merciful (2 Samuel 22:26).
God is merciful so he expects us to show mercy. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you (James 2:13).
What opportunity do you have to show mercy to someone this week? Does someone need your forgiveness? Does someone need your compassion? What about your patience or kindness? Do you know someone who doesn't know Jesus?
Think about your neighbours or people in the community that are in need spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially. Think about People who are struggling and could use your support and encouragement.
If you have not totally surrendered your life to Christ, this is your opportunity!
God mercy is still available for us today through the work Christ did on the cross. Do not reject his mercy. This is your time to come to Him. HE is a forgiving father and HIS plans for you are good and not of evil.