In a world filled with bitterness and injustice, it’s no accident that after sharing the beatitude about those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, Jesus followed it up with the beatitude on mercy…
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:6-7 NKJV)
In this world, where mothers and fathers mourn the lives of their children, murdered by men full of violence, we need mercy as well as justice. In this world, where men, women and children are raped and tortured, we need both mercy and justice. In this world, where governments lie, cheat and steal from their citizens, we need mercy to go hand in hand with justice.
What is mercy anyway? For much of my life, I’ve confused mercy with forgiveness, but in this study, I was moved to seek out the biblical definition, as well as the world’s definition, and I was surprised to discover that mercy and forgiveness are two different things. Don’t get me wrong, forgiveness is as essential to our walk with Christ as mercy is, but Jesus addresses that elsewhere. So, for now, we are going to talk about mercy…
This is dictionary.com’s definition of mercy:
noun, plural mer·cies for 4, 5.
- compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence: Have mercy on the poor sinner.
- the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing: an adversary wholly without mercy.
- the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.
- an act of kindness, compassion, or favor: She has performed countless small mercies for her friends and neighbors.
- something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing: It was just a mercy we had our seat belts on when it happened.
According to Strong’s Lexicon, this is the Greek word translated as mercy in this scripture, and its definition:
to be compassionate (by word or deed, specially, by divine grace):—have compassion (pity on), have (obtain, receive, shew) mercy (on).
Beloved reader, in this world that often shows little to no compassion for those who are hurt and afflicted, Jesus commands us to be merciful. In this world of unrighteousness, we are to show mercy to our enemies, to our friends, to our family, to the poor and forgotten… Indeed, we are to show mercy to everyone we come in contact with.
Do you want to receive mercy? Be merciful. Show compassion on those who are less fortunate than you are. Show compassion to those who are more fortunate than you. Show compassion to all you come in contact with.
Think about it, even as He was suffering, hanging, naked and dying on the cross, Jesus looked down and saw those who had tortured and hung Him gambling over His clothing, and instead of calling on God to strike them dead (which justice surely demanded), He was moved with pity for them. Can you imagine feeling pity for your tormentors, in the midst of your suffering? Jesus did, and He cried out to His Father, not to condemn them, but to have mercy on them…
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Beloved, if Jesus, who was and is wholly righteous, could have mercy enough on those, who yet tortured Him, to forgive them, how can we do any less? “But He is God,” you might say. “It’s harder for me to forgive, because I’m not God.” If you are truly a child of God, then His Spirit lives within you, and enables you to show mercy.
How much harder was it for Jesus, who knew no sin, to suffer at the hands of sinful man? How much harder was it for Him to have mercy on me, knowing how many times I have let Him down in the past, present and future? And yet, He continues to pour His mercies on us…
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them. (Psalm 103:11-18 NKJV)
Beloved, this walk with Christ is not an easy one. We are tested and tried at every turn, just as Jesus said we would be. And yet, by His grace, and in His strength, we can run this race, for He will give us the endurance to see it through. It’s time for us to stop seeing everything through the eyes of the world, and start seeing things through the eyes of Christ.
Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? Then you will be filled, as you show mercy to others. And as you show mercy to others, rejoice! For you are blessed, and you will receive that same mercy from the God of all mercy, and let’s not forget:
22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:22-24 NKJV)
Cheryl A. Showers