But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (Eph 2:4) In day-to-day living, we human beings learn by watching, reading, and listening. We watch some one’s actions and learn from them – there’s no better example of this than our own children and how quickly they “pick things up” from us – whether good or bad. What we read teaches us and influences our thoughts. Listening also teaches - if we are good listeners. Who we watch, read after and listen to is so important!
The best example and Teacher is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. If anyone was perfect in mercy, it was Jesus. Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines mercy as:
1. That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.
The Lord is long-suffering and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty. Num 14.
2. An act or exercise of mercy or favor. It is a mercy that they escaped.
I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies. Gen 32.
3. Pity; compassion manifested towards a person in distress.
And he said, he that showed mercy on him. Luke 10.
4. Clemency and bounty.
Mercy and truth preserve the king; and his throne is upheld by mercy. Prov 28.
5. Charity, or the duties of charity and benevolence.
I will have mercy and not sacrifice. Mat 9.
6. Grace; favor. 1 Cor 7. Jude 2.
7. Eternal life, the fruit of mercy. 2 Tim 1.
I cry thee mercy with all my heart.
9. The act of sparing, or the forbearance of a violent act expected. The prisoner cried for mercy.
To be or to lie at the mercy of, to have no means of self-defense, but to be dependent for safety on the mercy or compassion of another, or in the power of that which is irresistible; as, to be at the mercy of a foe, or of the waves.
What a difference in definition when compared to today’s Merriam Webster Dictionary:
1 a: compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; also : lenient or compassionate treatment b: imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder2 a: a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion b: a fortunate circumstance 3: compassionate treatment of those in distress
The Christian has seen mercy from the Lord first hand. This lesson in mercy ought to pierce our hearts in such a way that we would want to be merciful to others. How merciful are you toward those who have offended you? Do you mete out mercy equal to that which Christ has shown you? Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. (Luk 6:36)
If we are not merciful toward others, we cannot expect the Lord to be merciful toward us when we need Him to be. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Mat 5:7) Showing God’s mercy to others brings happiness and joy to the believer because we are not oppressed by the consequences of sin. We have been freed and are free to love others and be merciful to them. We don’t feel like we are in shackles and bound. I don’t know if this makes sense to you but it’s the only way I can explain how I feel when I am not being obedient to God’s Word in an area that I know I should be. He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. (Pro 14:21) This is probably one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn in my Christian walk. It is not human nature to be merciful. Our first reaction is to fight back and prove our point. The furthest thing from our minds is to obey this verse: And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. (Luk 6:31) But Christ tells us that this is what is required of us. Jesus could have easily chosen the same merciless path as I but instead, He submitted to His Father’s will and showed mercy to all. We would be in sad shape had Christ taken the same route as us, wouldn’t we?
…Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth. (Job 11:6b) We don’t deserve God’s mercy – but praise His Holy Name that He has shown mercy to us despite of our sin! So much the more should we Christians show mercy to those who hurt and abuse us. This is not an easy teaching to swallow but it is a needful teaching for our spirit. These lessons mold us and form us into the image of Christ and make us into vessels of honour for His use.
Christ, the great example
Of God’s mercy to all who live
May we follow in His footsteps
Standing ready to forgive