Summary: God's most essential attribute is His Mercy -- full of Mercy! He expects His children to be merciful as well. "Blessed are the merciful . . . "
I love the sign displayed at a convent, "Trespassers will be punished at the fullest of the law!" signed 'Sisters of Mercy.' Punished by mercy? That doesn't quite make sense! What is mercy? When we look up the definition in the dictionary it states the following: Refraining from inflicting suffering, punishment by one who has the right, power to inflict it.
Mercy is not in the hands of the one who pleads for it but rests in the hands of the one to whom the plea is made. Mercy is also related to justice. Justice treats us as we deserve to be treated because of our words and or actions. Mercy treats us differently than we deserve. Let me give you a few Biblical examples of mercy.
Genesis 3 – the Fall of Mankind. Adam and Eve deserved death. What happens? God displays his mercy to them. He does not turn a blind eye to their disobedience and their sin. He does not choose to ignore it. What he does is to pardon their sin. Mercy comes at the expense of a life. In this case the blood of an animal was shed to atone for the sin of Adam and Eve. How do we know that? Well we read that God clothed them in animal skins to hide their nakedness. Mercy came at the expense of a life, at the cost of the shedding of blood.
Exodus 25.17-22. We have here described the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant. I want you to note that the Mercy Seat covered the Ark. It was over the Law, it covered justice and judgment. But I want you also to note it only came into effect when blood was sprinkled on it. When the blood from the sacrificial lamb on the Day of Atonement was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat then the throne of God’s judgment and justice became the means of his mercy to a sinful and wayward people. Mercy was offered at the price of a life.
The blood of Christ speaks of God’s mercy. For God to show us mercy he cannot set aside justice. Justice must be fulfilled or God would not be just. So God in his mercy towards us satisfies his justice, his holiness by taking the punishment which our sin deserves, death, upon himself and the blood of his Son shed on the cross effects mercy for us. Mercy required the shedding of blood. The blood of Christ brought a new covenant, an eternal covenant, in his own blood which does cleanse us from sin for all eternity.
God’s mercy brings us forgiveness that frees us up for a fresh start in him. Regardless of who you are, what you have done, or where you have been, God wants to pour out his mercy on you. The Bible uses words like abundant, everlasting, and overflowing to describe his mercy. If a person is convicted of a crime, there is a slight chance he will face a kind judge who will show him a little mercy. Maybe reduce his sentence by a few years. That is not a lot of mercy. It is a little mercy, and the truth is, when it comes to humans, mercy is hard to come by. Not so with God. His mercy is like a huge bucket of water filled to the rim so that if you bumped into it, it would spill all over you. His mercy is so great that he does not just forgive us when we fail, but He erases any record of our failure. He doesn’t just reduce our sentence, eternal punishment. He eliminates it and sets us free.
Maybe you have made mistakes. Maybe you have tried filling that emptiness with other things like I did and you still are not satisfied. Maybe you have lost hope for the future because try as you might, you cannot be the person you want to be. God wants to give you a fresh start. There is no sin or mistake that God’s mercy cannot cover. You cannot use it up. Ever! It’s His very nature. God is merciful. Amen.