Mercy

The world will tell us that we deserve lots of things.  We deserve to be treated fairly; we deserve certain benefits from the government; we deserve respect; we deserve a good price on something.  They mean that these things are owed to us; they are our right.  If we don’t get what we deserve, we are being cheated.  But consider what we deserve from God.  All of us have sinned.  Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  We deserve punishment and death from God.  Instead of getting what we deserve, we receive mercy and blessings from a loving Father.  We had a need for salvation.  He took pity on us and chose to send His Son to die in our place.  He chose to save us by grace through faith.  Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”

What great mercy God has had for you and me!  Romans 9:15 “For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’”  Praise God that He decided to be merciful to whoever believes in Jesus, that we should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).  God is rich in mercy towards us.  Ephesians 2:4-7 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Matthew 9:13 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, God described Himself.  Exodus 34:5-7 “Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.  And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘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, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.’” I think it is important that God described Himself as merciful, gracious, and longsuffering.  For those who continue in iniquity, He takes vengeance.  But for those who turn to Him in repentance, He is merciful.  Remember the story of Jonah; he didn’t want to go to Nineveh and he tried to run away from God.  After he was swallowed by the fish and vomited out by the fish, he went to Nineveh, preached, and the people repented.  God had mercy on the city and did not destroy it.  Here is Jonah’s prayer.  Jonah 4:2 “So he prayed to the Lord, and said, ‘Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.’”  2 Corinthians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”  God is merciful!

Since He is merciful, God asks us to also be merciful.  Luke 6:35 “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.  Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” 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?”  Jesus told the parable of a servant who owed his master a large amount of money.  Since the servant did not have the resources to pay back the debt, he asked for patience.  The master of the servant was moved with compassion and forgave the debt.  Matthew 18:28-35 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’  So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’  And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.  So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.  Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’  And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.  So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” This parable illustrates how important it is that we be merciful to others.

We may have the attitude that one must pay back all that he owes; one must suffer the consequences for every infraction; he deserves what is coming to him.  It is then that we need to be reminded that we don’t get what we deserve from God.  God is merciful to us.  We, in turn, can be merciful to others.  James 2:12-13 “So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”  When possible, I encourage you to be merciful.