The word “mercy” is found hundreds of times in the Bible, being translated from various Hebrew and Greek words. The primary meaning behind the word is having pity on those who are afflicted, joined with a desire to help them.
Webster’s Dictionary defines mercy as “a refraining from harming or punishing offenders, enemies, persons in one’s power, etc.; kindness in excess of what may be expected or demanded by fairness… a disposition to forgive, pity, or be kind.”
Everything we learn about mercy has originally come from God. He is the “Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3).
God’s mercy is abundant, providing more than we will ever need. “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth” (Ps. 86:15).
God’s mercy is reliable, faithful, and trustworthy. “But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation” (Ps. 13:5).
God’s mercy endures forever. “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children” (Ps. 103:17). Read Psalm 136 and notice the refrain “For His mercy endures forever” is repeated 26 times!
Forgiveness is available from God because He is merciful towards us. “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy… For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him” (Ps. 103:8, 11-13).
Because of the richness of His abundant mercy, God took pity on our spiritual condition and sent His Son to die for us (Eph. 2:4-10).
God’s mercy is worthy to be praised, but it is conditional. His mercy must be received on His terms.
1. Call on the Lord. “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You” (Ps. 86:5). God will not grant His divine mercy to those who refuse to acknowledge Him.
2. Confess and Forsake Our Sin. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Is. 55:7). God has never obligated Himself to forgive us of our sins if we refuse to acknowledge and turn away from them. Repentance is essential.
3. Have a Penitent and Contrite Heart. “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:13-14). God sees our hearts, and extends His mercy only to those whose hearts are humble and acknowledge their unworthiness before His holiness.
4. Fear the Lord and Keep His Commandments. “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them” (Ps. 103:17-18). This is the summation of our duty before God (Eccl. 12:13) and is required if we are to remain in fellowship with God and continue to receive His mercy.
5. Show Mercy to Others. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt. 5:7). Ingratitude is an ugly trait. Those who receive God’s mercy are, at the very least, obligated to show it to others. Our willingness to show mercy will result in God showing mercy to us on the Day of Judgment (James 2:13).
6. Love Mercy. “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?” (Micah 6:8). We are not to dismiss or downplay the importance of mercy, nor are we to merely acknowledge mercy as a good trait. We must appreciate and value mercy as a cherished part of God’s character. God delights in showing mercy (Micah 7:18). We must learn to do the same.
Mercy is an important subject. We will all need mercy from God. He is ready to show us mercy, but only if we have learned to be merciful ourselves.
The actions of the Good Samaritan are summed up as “he who showed mercy on him,” to which our Lord replied, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). Let’s learn to be merciful people.