The word mercy means compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or any person in one's power. A second definition is the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing. Another meaning of the word mercy is something that gives evidence of divine favor, blessing.

We read in Matthew 5:7," Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

A Biblical example is that of the Pharisee and the tax collector. This story is found in Luke 18. The tax collector attested to his sins, wanting the forgiveness of the Lord and to be seen by Him as if he had no sin. Jesus said, " And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ' God, be merciful to me a sinner!'" Luke 18:13

The Pharisee on the other hand was filled with pride. It is hazardous to become holier than thou or self-righteous. If we are proud we will not have the mercy of God.

Jesus said of the tax collector," I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:14

We learn from these lessons that we are to be merciful as God is. "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. " Luke 6:36

Another Biblical example of someone showing mercy toward another is that of the master to whom money was owed. He had different servants, but one of them owed him a large sum of money. This entire story can be read in Matthew 18:23-35.

"Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. " Matthew 18:27
That servant then went to a fellow servant and showed him no mercy. Once the master found out, he became angry. " Then his master, after he had called him, said to him,' You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?'"Matthew 18:32-33

Imagine a case where someone had embezzled funds. Once this was found out, the person feared the loss of his job and possible legal steps. After the discovery, he walked into the boss's office. He was asked to stay at his present job, and also he was asked if he could be trusted again. He accepted and said he could be trusted. When he asked why he was given another chance at this position, the boss said he himself had been in the same situation. He was shown mercy and wanted to show mercy to someone else.

A third Biblical example is the Good Samaritan. This story is told in Luke 10:30-35. A man went down a road, was overtaken by thieves and they left him half dead. Three men walked by and saw him. The priest and the Levite walked by on the other side. The Samaritan saw him and had compassion and cared for him.

" Then Jesus answered and said: ' A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.'" Luke 10:30-33

So you, by the help of your God, return; Observe mercy and justice, And wait on your God continually.
Hosea 12:6 (NKJV)

For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy, Mercy triumphs over judgment.
James 2:13(NKJV)

Thus says the Lord of hosts: Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother.
Zechariah 7:9(NKJV)

Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart,
Proverbs 3:3(NKJV)

" Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness."
Romans 12:6-8 (NKJV)

The prophet sums it up for us in Micah 6:," He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? "

Discussion and study questions:
(1) How do we participate in displaying mercy to others?
(2) Why is mercy so important?
(3) How does God show mercy toward us?

Copyright 2007 Linda Lawrence