MERCY IS OFTEN HARD TO COME BY TODAY! Mercy has been defined by some as “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” Mercy toward someone certainly implies an act of compassion that one apparently doesn’t deserve and forgiveness of one that requires an act of the will of the grantor of mercy. Because of the many conflicts between people in our society today over many unresolved issues on a personal and national level it appears to me that mercy toward our fellow man is not as common today as it used to be.
I think as Christians we need to remember where we came from and what we were like before we became Christians in order for us to respond to others with real mercy. The Apostle Paul shared these words in writing to young Preacher Titus, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his MERCY (emphasis mine). He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life,” (Titus 3: 3-7 NIV).
Sometimes when mercy is extended people may misunderstand and think because we extend mercy we agree with the offense of the person forgiven. But that is not true of God nor should we assume it is automatically true of others. As God has dealt with us so God has dealt with others, “And the Lord said,’…I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion,” (Exodus 33:19 NIV). Since as Christians we are to emulate Jesus in our attitudes and actions we should be extenders of mercy whenever and wherever the situation allows it. Does that mean that we should overlook the breaking of God’s law or government’s laws by anyone? Not at all as Paul in Titus 3:1-2 reminds us; however we should realize that the majority of non-Christians are governed by their own sinful desires and guidelines rather than by God or the government. Since all of us at one time were in the same condition, this knowledge along with the indwelling Holy Spirit, should help us to be very compassionate toward those around us who many times find themselves in desperate situations. As Jesus said, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,” Luke 6:36 NIV). Sometimes when faced with the issues of life and justice and mercy we just have to ask, “What would Jesus do?” Jesus has a great regard for people of mercy as shown by His words, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy,” (Matthew 5:7) NIV). I don’t know about you but I need a fresh supply of God’s mercy every day.