Mercy is something we don’t see much of in our world today, but it is something we desperately need. According to the Random House Dictionary online, mercy is “compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence.” The opposite of mercy is judgment.
As Christians, we are called to be merciful. James admonishes us:
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! James 2:12-13.
In His sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7. But mercy was not a new concept when Jesus came on the scene. There are numerous references to God’s mercy in the Old Testament. One of the minor prophets wrote:
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. Micah 7:18.
Throughout the Psalms David called upon the mercy of God. In Proverbs 21:10 we are told, “The wicked man craves evil; his neighbor gets no mercy from him.” By contrast, the righteous man is one who shows mercy just as God does.
But mercy is sometimes a challenge. We want others to get what they deserve when they hurt us or do wrong. But what if we got what we really deserved? What if we had to pay the penalty for every sin we have committed? I am grateful that because of Jesus, you and I do not get what we deserve. We get God’s mercy, which is much more than we deserve.
Third Day sings a great song called “I Deserve?” The lyrics are few, but profound:
I tasted fruit that was forbidden
I murdered trust that you had given
And now I’m living in a place that’s not my home
The pain in your heart made you regret
The moment we spoke, did you forget?
Will my transgressions bring us all to our sweet end?
Maybe I’m just being too hard on myself. I don’t know
Or is it that your mercy is much more than I deserve?
Betrayed by more than just a kiss
I did much more I must admit
Instead of letting it all end you bring new hope
My son just asked me what I was writing, and I told him I was writing a blog post about mercy. He said, “Did you write that no matter what we go through in life on earth, whatever pain and suffering we experience, it is not because of God, it is because of our own choices? But if we walk in God’s ways and mold ourselves to be like Him, He will grant us the ultimate mercy one day in Heaven.” I couldn’t sum it up any better. And if God grants us the ultimate mercy that is much more than we deserve, shouldn’t we grant mercy to others and also point them towards God’s great mercy?