We all know what mercy is: not giving someone what they deserve. But I’ve never really thought about what that means for me. I know God has shown me mercy in not punishing me as I deserve, but how can I be showing mercy to others? I’m not in a position of authority where I can mete out merciful judgments left and right.
So what can it mean for the average person to show mercy?
It could mean….
… Not yelling at a sibling who is getting on my nerves.
… Not gossiping about someone behind his back.
… Focusing on the good in people, rather than the bad.
… Not judging someone, and instead showing love.
The Greek word for “mercy” also means to show “compassion.” Compassion and mercy are two words we hear a lot about in the Bible. Come to think of it, they describe Jesus pretty well, don’t they?
Heb. 2:17, “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Mercy sympathizes and understands)
Luke 1:50, “And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.” (God shows mercy to the ones who most fear His judgments)
Psa. 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (God’s mercy is upon those who trust in Him)
Psa. 103:11, “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;” (God’s mercy is far above anything we could imagine – can we not show even a little mercy to those around us?)
Matt. 9:13, “But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.‘” (Mercy is more important than works)
Matt. 23:23, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.” (Mercy is an important trait in God’s eyes)
Micah 7:18, “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.” (Do we delight in giving mercy?)
Rom. 12:8, “he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Mercy should be given freely, not grudgingly)
Jam. 3:17, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” (We should be full of mercy!)
Jam. 2:13, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy – and the opposite holds true as well)
Pro. 21:21, “He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor.” (Blessed are the merciful)
Pro. 28:13, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” (When we confess our faults, God shows us mercy. We should do the same for others)
Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (What does God require of us? Just three things – and one is to love mercy)
One thing I noticed as I looked up cross-references was that, especially in the Old Testament, “mercy” can also be translated as “love” or “lovingkindness” in different versions.
So, for us to show mercy, is also to show love and kindness. When we show mercy, we are like God. When we love, we are like God – for God is love.
Let us ask ourselves – are we quicker to show mercy, or to cast judgment? To show kindness, or to be selfish? To notice good, or to remember evil? To forgive, or to hold a grudge? To show love, or to not?
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matt. 7:1-2)