Rich in Mercy

Rich in Mercy

Many people see God as a divine being with His sword of judgment raised ready to cut people off for any spiritual infraction. This understanding of God is far from the truth, for God is merciful. His arms of mercy are extended to help everyone in their time of sin, failure, need, suffering, and temptation.

A Divine Attribute of God

The Psalmist David penned: “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth” (Psalm 86:15). Mercy is that disposition to be kind and forgiving. It is the quality that has to do with compassion, forgiveness, and leniency where there might otherwise be judgment. Mercy, as a subset of grace, is the gift of God’s undeserved love and compassion when He does not give people the punishment they deserve.

The mercy of God is too often overlooked and underestimated. God is not only the “God of all comfort” but is also the “Father of mercies” (2 Corinthians 1:3). Mercy is a primary, divine attribute of God. “To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses” (Daniel 9:9). God is righteous and holy and yet forgiveness and mercy belong to Him. Mercy is an integral part of His character, for He is the origin of it.

The Scripture repeatedly details and exemplifies the mercy of God in His dealings with humanity. When people are in trouble and seek the Lord, He will not forsake them, “For the LORD thy God is a merciful God” (Deuteronomy 4:31). In
Micah 7:18, the prophet penned so eloquently: “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.” Christ revealed that practical side of mercy as He ministered to the sinners when He walked on this earth. “When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion” (Matthew 9:36).

God’s Mercy Is Plenteous and Enduring

God is “slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy” (Psalm 103:8). There is a storehouse of mercy that overrides the call to judgment. It was upon that mercy that David called when he had sinned with Bathsheba. David was broken, guilty, and repentant. He prayed, “According unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1). Tender mercies refer to God’s ready, large, and liberal disposition to compassion. David’s appeal was not to justice, but his hope was in the infinite mercy of God. In His mercy, God is delaying the final judgment to give more opportunity for people to be saved. The Lord “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

All Have Sinned and Are Worthy of Judgment

“All have sinned” (Romans 3:23), done wrong, and transgressed the commandments of God. Due to this sin, we are also all worthy of punishment, for the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Yet, in our undeserving state, God extended His love and mercy through Jesus Christ. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”
(Ephesians 2:4-6). Mercy comes not by the will of man but of the sovereign will of God
(Romans 9:15-16). Man does not deserve it, nor can he gain it by merit. Mercy is a gift of God.

Salvation and Eternal Life According to Mercy

It was because of love that God sent Jesus to die for the sins of humanity. Salvation came, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5). Salvation is not extended to those who are qualified by their own goodness and righteousness. Salvation is given by mercy to the vilest of sinners who will repent and accept this gift of God. When the wicked forsake their ways and return unto the Lord, “He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). The person that feels unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness because of past wrongs will be accepted and reconciled to God because of His mercy.

Mercy Sustains God’s People

David wrote: “My foot slippeth; thy mercy,
O LORD, held me up” (Psalm 94:18). For people who are seeking to serve God, there are times of failure and mistakes. God is not going to cut someone off when they fall short of perfection; rather, He will help them and renew them. It is God that restores and holds people up by His mercy lest they fall into ruin. When life is dark and things seem impossible, remember the prophet Jeremiah. “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23).

A Merciful High Priest

Jesus took on the nature of man, “that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest” (Hebrews 2:17). He understands the difficulties of the flesh and is merciful to people in their struggles. People can go with assurance to that high priest, and “obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

An End to God’s Mercy

In this life, God is more ready to have mercy than to administer judgment. It would be a mistake to ignore the reality of the coming judgment when there will be an end to God’s mercy. Judgment will come to those that reject Jesus and His words (John 12:48). There will be everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:45-46) to those who refuse to accept God’s mercy and salvation. As those that despised Moses’ law died without mercy, so shall those that despise the saving blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:28-29).

Praise God for His mercy! Through His love and forgiveness, when we repent, instead of the punishment we so justly deserve, we can find hope, peace, and restoration. God is no respecter of persons, and His mercy extends to all people, regardless of their background and problems.

Called to a Life of Mercy

As God is merciful, so are His followers to be merciful. Jesus gave a clear instruction that should be followed: “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Micah 6:8 poses the question, “What doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy….” Christians are not just to ‘have’ mercy, they are to ‘love’ mercy. Mercy looks beyond one’s own feelings to the feelings and needs of others. Mercy in its purest form is not begrudging or dutiful but is plenteous and from the heart.

Mercy Better Than Sacrifice

While there is a time of righteous judgment, the child of God should put more emphasis on extending mercy to people that are living less than stellar lives. Just as the Pharisees, too many Christians have focused on the outward manifestation of holiness and neglected the weightier matters of mercy (Matthew 23:23).  Both the Old Testament (Hosea 6:6) and New Testament (Matthew 9:11-13) confirm that God would rather have mercy than sacrifice. A spirit of mercy is of MORE importance than the outward sacrifices of holy living. Judgment drives away where mercy compels and gives the opportunity for change.

When people make mistakes or even sin, saints are to communicate and deal with them from a standpoint of mercy and forgiveness. All of us needed and still need the mercy of God. How can God’s children be any less merciful with sinners and even with other professing Christians?

Blessings and Judgment

Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). If the child of God does not live a life with mercy for others, God will judge him without mercy (James 2:13). If the followers of Christ do not forgive people in their trespasses and seek for their restoration, God will not forgive them (Matthew 18:33-35).

We are desperate for the mercy of God in our lives, and we should be just as willing to extend that mercy to those around us. ■