Summary: A Definition of Mercy


A Definition of Mercy

My own personal definition about mercy is this: Mercy is where we do not really get what we truly deserve.

In other words, if God was not merciful, we would receive the full measure of His wrath upon sinful human beings. God was not merciful to Jesus on the cross because the entire wrath of God was poured out on Him for what should have been ours. Webster defines mercy in a somewhat different manner but I still like it:

It is compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender…showing leniency. Mercy in a sense is just the opposite of grace.

Mercy is that which we don’t get but we do deserve (God’s wrath) and grace is that which we do get but don’t deserve (because of our sins).

Matthew 9:13 “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus was saying this to the Pharisees. They scorned Jesus for eating with tax collectors and sinners and completely missed the point. Jesus was a friend of sinners but an enemy to those who were “religious” or self-righteous. Jesus’ point was that He came to save that which was lost and not to those who believed that they were already righteous. It’s the same today.

There is more hope for a murderer than one who thinks that they don’t need forgiveness because the religious leaders believed that their works were a sufficient sacrifice to God. Those who don’t believe they need mercy will not receive it but those who know they need it, will. Praise the Lord.

Jude 1:22-23 “And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”

This verse is very special because Jude was saying that we ought to have mercy on those who are in doubt. What does he mean by doubt?

I believe it’s the doubt of those who think that they are too bad to be saved

and don’t have a chance. Jude must have been talking about witnessing because in the next verse he contrasts the gospel presentation of mercy with one of fear. I can’t count the number of people that I have counseled in presenting the gospel that believe that they have done too much to ever be forgiven. Telling them about God’s mercy and having mercy on those who will eternally perish without Christ is indeed being merciful. Others are more resistant and full of pride and so they may need to be told that God is angry at the sinner every day.

(Psalm 7:11) and that His wrath is upon those who refuse to humble themselves, repent, and fear Him.

Second Chronicles 30:9 “For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if

you return to him.”

God always gives room for repentance as He did even for ancient Israel. Even though they had forgotten God He had not forgotten them. Even though they had made and worshipped idols which were only graven images, He told them that He would be merciful to them if they returned (repented) to Him. He promised to not “turn away His face” from them if they would repent.

Consequently, we see that “God is gracious and merciful” even when we are disobedient. In this verse, God actually mentions grace (as in His graciousness) and mercy in the same sentence. Today we can receive Gods’ grace as a free gift and escape what we rightly deserve (that’s called mercy).

Luke 6:36 “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

If we would have the same mercy on others that God had on us, then we could win many non-believers to Christ, even those who consider us

as their enemies. In the previous verse (Luke 6:35) Jesus was telling us to “love our enemies, and do good”

to them (Luke 6:35).

If we really understand just how merciful God has been to us, then,

I believe we would be more merciful

to those who hate us and persecute us. Why? Because God first loved us when we were still sinners and Jesus died for us while we were still His enemies (Rom 5:8).

Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

This is similar to Luke 6:36 in the sense that since God has been merciful to us, we ought to be merciful to others. If we give mercy, we will receive mercy. Not only that, if we are merciful, God promises us a blessing and who wouldn’t want a blessing from God? I know I do…

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