Some have a gift for being merciful. When a person wants to talk, they’re the ones who patiently take the time to listen. When someone needs help finishing a project for work or school, they’re the ones who gladly step up to lend a hand. When a friend shows up on their doorstep, they will not turn that friend away. Even if the need goes beyond their ability to render aid, they do what they can, showing that person where to find help.
We all know someone like that. Maybe you are that merciful person.
It’s easy to have mercy on those who understand the depth of the sacrifice being made for them. In fact, it’s downright pleasurable to deal mercifully with those who you know will thank you later. Yet there are times when mercy is not so easy. Perhaps in the past, mercy that was shown went unnoticed. Maybe someone took advantage of you and the mercy you offered. We might still help such a person, but that help does not come with much willingness or cheer.
Is that kind of help truly merciful? Mercy is more than helping people who are in desperate circumstances. Mercy is the “kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mercy). True mercy is help for people who do not deserve it.
That was the mercy God gave to us. We were born dead in sin, doomed to an eternity of hellfire. Yet the Lord had mercy. He sent His Son Jesus into this world to suffer hell in our place at the cross so that we could live with Him forever in heaven. Jesus willingly carried out His Father’s plan. As sinners, we did not deserve God’s help, yet God’s mercy in Christ can be seen in that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NKJV).
Your mercy has not been perfect, and how often have we forgotten to thank God for His mercy? Yet by the saving mercy of Christ, you are forgiven. And His mercy now fuels your own mercy. By the mercies of God in Christ, you can offer love and help to those who don’t deserve it, kindly assisting those who have abused your help in the past (perhaps with a bit more wisdom this time). You can happily forgive those who have hurt you.
It will not be easy. In fact, without Christ, that kind of mercy is impossible, but with Christ all things are possible. With His good news beating in your heart, you can show real mercy, “mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:8, NKJV).
Rev. S. Piet Van Kampen, Board for Christian Service