Do You Show Others Mercy? Come See What God Has to Say about the Topic

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God’s Word is a full of Scriptures that speak about the ways in which God lavishes His children with grace. God is for His children and bestows great blessings on those who are found in Christ. The Christian is saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8), and it is vitally important for the believer not to lose sight of this all-important truth.

Nevertheless, there are times in God’s Word when the Christian gets glimpses of the importance of his own personal obedience. Being saved by grace through faith is absolutely foundational. So what does the Christian make of Scriptures such as the following?

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15).

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

At first glance, it appears as though a person must perform good works to obtain salvation. As a result, there must be more than meets the eye. Scripture must interpret Scripture. Matthew 5:7 will be the Scripture of primary concern, and it is on this Scripture that this article now turns.

What is mercy?

To begin, it is important to define the word mercy properly. Sometimes the words grace and mercy can be used inappropriately and interchangeably. This typically happens because someone has a skewed definition of these words.

Grace and mercy go hand in hand. They are both connected to the saving work of Christ and the nature of God. God is merciful, and God is gracious. When the word grace is used, the word typically speaks of God’s unmerited favor. It can also refer to God’s divine enablement. When God is gracious toward a person, God gives the person what he does not deserve.

God is gracious to all people. As a result, a distinction is made between common and special grace. Common grace is just that: common. It is known by all and for all. It is not for the minority but for the majority (hence, common grace). God gives food, sun, water, etc., to mankind as a whole. All of these are forms of grace.

God’s special grace is revealed in Christ. Those who are true believers are recipients of God’s special grace. This grace is not common; hence, it is special, it is unique, it is unusual, and it is extraordinary. This grace includes the Holy Spirit, salvation (justification, sanctification, glorification), adoption, etc.

Through the avenue of God’s grace, blessings are poured out upon God’s creation.

This brings us to mercy. While grace involves receiving, mercy involves God’s withholding. Simply put, mercy is God’s not giving people what they deserve. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23). When someone works, he works for “wages.” If you go to your job and work 40 hours a week, you are earning wages. You are ultimately paid for your work.

However, then the Bible says, “…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). This is a troubling fact of Scripture, especially when coupled with “the wages of sin is death.” This means that the work that every single person has put in, in this life, is deserving of death.

Mercy is not getting death and every other consequence of sin. When death is talked about in Romans 6:23, physical death is at stake. But additionally, and what is of primary concern in that Scripture, there is spiritual death, separation from God. This is what a person deserves when he sins against the Lord.

• Mercy is not being separated from God; grace is fellowship with God.
• Mercy is not getting hell; grace is getting heaven.

Why should the Christian be merciful?

The Christian should be merciful because the stakes are high. The Christian must be merciful if he wants to be a recipient of God’s mercy. The Bible means what it says. But how do we reconcile Matthew 5:7 with Ephesians 2:8? The answer comes in two forms.

Forgiveness and mercy are closely connected. When the Bible speaks of the need to forgive others so that God will forgive you, it teaches that sin disrupts man’s relationship with God. This does not refer to the initial act of justification. Justification is a one-time act whereby the sinner is declared righteous by the Father.

After this one-time act, the sanctification process starts. During this process, the Christian’s feet can get a little dirty. Confession of sin washes the Christian’s dirty feet (John 13). The Christian continues to need cleansing in this way to restore intimacy with God.

The Bible says that if the Christian does not forgive, then God will withhold forgiveness from the Christian. The same is true with mercy. The believer needs mercy just like everyone else. If the believer wants a vibrant relationship with God, he is going to need God to be merciful to him. Thus, he needs to be merciful to others.

Another important factor to consider is that an unmerciful Christian does not even make sense. In other words, if someone is unrepentantly unmerciful, he may not be a true believer. God makes it clear that it is those who are merciful that will receive mercy. Therefore, logically, the Christian will show others mercy if he is in fact a true Christian because true Christians are, in fact, recipients of God’s mercy.

When should the Christian be merciful?

The Christian should conduct himself in a state of mercy at all times. In the life of a Christian, mercy is more than not letting someone have it. Everyone in the world is flawed. Differences will arise in the way others think. People will come against you. People will fight against you. People will lie about you, and people may possibly steal from you.

In each and every situation, the Christian must not entertain thoughts of the flesh (i.e., angry, critical, judgmental, or vengeful thoughts, and so on). That is mercy. Rather, the Christian must choose to forgive (that is mercy and grace colliding). Then, he must show the person love (that is grace).

How can the Christian be merciful?

In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus gives some clear instruction on how the Christian can grow in being merciful toward others. In this portion of Scripture, there is a servant who has a large debt with his king. The king calls his servant to appear before him. The king then asks for payment of this debt.

When this takes place, the servant falls down and pleads with the king. He knows he cannot pay the debt that he owes. The king is a merciful king, and he chooses, because he is merciful, to forgive the debt that the servant owed. The servant then goes free, and a great weight has been lifted from his shoulders.

Shortly after, however, the servant who was shown mercy finds someone who owed him money. This person was also a servant of the king. They were both on the same level. They were both servants. As the first servant realizes that he has not been paid by this other servant, he gets angry. He then demands that payment be made. He even physically assaults the servant who owed him money.

His fellow servant falls down before the servant who was shown mercy and pleads for mercy. However, the servant who was shown mercy at the first refuses to show mercy to this man who was pleading for it. The Bible even tells us that the debt the second servant owed was much less than the one the king showed mercy toward.

Their fellow servants rush off and tell the king of what took place. The king is amazed. After the abundance of mercy that the king showed his servant, his servant still went out and refused to show others mercy.

This story is meant to help the Christian recognize the great debt of which he has been forgiven by God. The more the Christian comes to grips with the mercy that he has been shown and is regularly shown, the more that he will also be merciful toward others.

Final prayer

Father, I thank You that You have been so merciful to me. Help me to never forget the abundance of mercy that I receive each day. Help me to also remember that if I withhold mercy from others, You will withhold it from me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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