An explanation of what mercy is and is not with examples of each

Mercy in times of Judgement

Matthew 18.23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 “And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 “But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 “The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 “Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

What a great and merciful God we serve. For the king is Jesus and we are the debtors. It matters not whether you owe much or little, this example is for all of us. Some would say that God who owns all simply let the man go and did not feel particularly one way or the other. Yet this would not be Jesus. When our Lord looks upon us He sees exactly what we have done. A full account of every sin and every failing is there before Him. He is not a cold hearted ruler showing off His "mercy." He is moved by compassion.

None of us can pay the debt we owe to God. Neither in the large things such as payments for sin nor in the small things as failing to give a cup of cold water to a child. We may repent and try to do the good works yet what of the events we failed to do? We can begin to do the good works that we should have been doing but that does not make up for the things we did not do when the time was right. In times of judgement Jesus can sell all that you have and toss you into prison. Make no mistake... this is His right and He has the authority to do it.

The servant above threw himself at the feet of the king. He begged for mercy and thought if the king would give him enough time he would be able to pay the debt he owed. The king looked upon the pleading man and had compassion on him. The king had pity for the man before him. The king felt the grief of the man's soul and the pain within the man's heart. Feeling the turmoil the king desired to help the man and forgave the man his debt.

First there was pity... then there was compassion... yet it did not end there. For pity is simply feeling the pain of the man. Compassion is the desire to help someone because you feel the pain. But Mercy! Mercy is the actual doing something about it. Not just the awareness of the problem and not just the desire to help but the help given. This is the hallmark of the God we serve. Certainly He feels our pain and has a desire to help but He also does that which helps.

This is mercy and it has nothing to do with our ability to repay. In the example above the man was released and forgiven the debt. The king did not want to get repaid... he wanted to deliver the man of his debt. The man received forgiveness and walked out of the presence of the king free of his debt. It is the king himself who suffered the loss and not the man who owed.

Mercy in times of Distress

Luke 7.12 And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.

Again, what a great and merciful God we serve. The above example has nothing to do with judgement. Jesus saw the broken heart of a mother grieving for the her only son. The son who is the strength of the family. The one who would care for her in her old age. The one who would carry on the family "name" after she was gone. Her child of hope! The child she loved! And there he lay in the coffin, lifeless and bound to the curse of "dust thou art and to dust though shalt return."

Jesus felt the ache within the mother's heart. He saw her and was moved by her suffering to help her. He did not stop at desiring to help but reached out and touched the coffin that bore her son and called him back to life. Many were awed by the display of the power to raise the dead to life but that was not the greatest thing. The greatest thing was the heart that motivated the action. It was the heart that brought about the mercy shown to the widow. Note... the mercy was shown to the widow and not the son. The son died as all will die but the broken heart of the mother was what drew the heart of Jesus to act.

If Jesus would do so much for the aching heart of a woman how much more would He do for those who have a ache in their heart because of the troubles they face? Even the quenching of a child's thirst is in His heart to remedy. Remember Ishmael as a child in the wilderness, thirsting for water, and God sent an angel to Hagar to show her where the water was to be found. Jesus not only has compassion but will also show mercy by supplying the need.

Understand... no one deserves mercy! If something is deserved it is no longer mercy but the carrying out of judgement based on good or bad acts. Rewards or punishment. Romans 9.15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.

If mercy in the heart of God motivated Him to send His only Son to the cross to die for our sins, the same merciful heart will supply your needs... To Escape the judgement... To help in times of distress.

The stumbling block

Matthew 5.7 Blessed are the merciful,  For they shall obtain mercy.

Luke 6.36 “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

Aha! Some would say... then it is based on good works. Wrong! My dear reader if that were the case you would be placing the cart before the horse. You do not do good works to show that you are merciful. It is because you are merciful that good works are then done by you.

How so?

In an attempt to receive mercy some would do good works, yet there is no pity in their hearts for the troubles of others. There is no desire in their hearts to help others but only a desire to receive help from God for their own needs. They do good things for others so that God will do good things for them. This is selfishness and does not reflect the love of God nor does this motivation produce acts of mercy. For acts of mercy it must be the desire to help others in their need at your expense expecting no reward at all and then paying the price.

If you will not reflect the heart of God; the heart that sees our condition, the heart that feels our pain, the heart that desires to do something about it, the heart that will pay the price needed to meet the need... Then neither shall you be shown mercy.

Matthew 18.28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 “So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 “And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 “So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 “Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 ‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 “And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.

It starts with Him and continues through us...

Father in Heaven... reveal to us your children the depth of your mercy. Take out the heart of stone and replace it with one of flesh. Conform our minds, our thoughts, so that they  we may be like Jesus. Help us to become vessels of mercy to others, to pass over judgement and be a help in times of distress. Simply... to be your sons and daughters. Amen.

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Author: Joseph Raymond

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