I’ve always known I don’t score too highly on the mercy meter. After all, when my kids were little and they got hurt, I was angry for what their pain did to me. I started asking the Lord to fill me with the Fruit of the Spirit of kindness. Then I prayed for years that I would be clothed with compassion. I think I have made some strides in the kindness/compassion department only as the Lord has helped me. Mercy is another character all together.
I was recently at an event where I judged a woman nearby. I watched her over several days. She was in her 40s, wearing short shorts and a not too appropriate tank top. She had large tattoos on the parts of her upper body skin that was exposed. I immediately thought her to be of similar character of others I’ve known with her appearance—hardened by life and possibly an addict. Later in the day an older woman in the crowd fell and hit her head. It was the type of venue where lots of people came to her aide and I could only sit back and watch. Walking near this older lady was the woman I had judged. I’ll call her “Clementina” (which means merciful in French). Clementina stopped and was one of the first to respond. She braced the woman as she tried to sit up. She provided shade for her in the hot afternoon sun. When the woman was sitting, Clementina noticed she was exposing herself as her clothing got tangled. Clementina straightened her skirt to cover her legs. I couldn’t tell what she was saying, but it looked like she offered comfort until the first aide people arrived. The woman seemed to be mostly ok. All these are actions I may never have thought to take had it been me. Merciful Clementina. Mercy me-- not so much.
Jesus 5th Beautiful Beatitude is Matthew 5:7, “God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” To be merciful is from the Greek word eleos. It means to put compassionate thought to a matter and then take action. It involves seeing others as God sees them and then give help. It’s the opposite of hard hearted. We can only see individuals as God sees them as we carry His heart in ours. Clementina showed this kind of mercy that has an active desire to remove the miseries of another.
The story of the Good Samaritan is the classic story of mercy extended in the Bible. A Jew is robbed and injured and left on the side of the road. A priest and lawyer walk by without stopping to help. Then a despised Samaritan came by. He helped and made sure the guy was cared for long-term. Jesus asked an expert in religious law, “‘Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?’... The man replied, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Yes, now go and do the same.’” (Luke 10:36-37) Mercy crosses all racial, ethnic, religious and national boundaries. It notices the need and takes action to help alleviate suffering. We need Good Samaritan attitude in our culture today. We are so divided by identity and prejudice that the division is sparking intolerance and violence. Mercy would tell us to look at each other as God sees us. Kindness and compassion are the heart of God toward all. They should be our heart, too. And not just our heart, but our actions as well.
I have to take a big “gulp” when I read this verse: “There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.” (James 2:13) God is rich in mercy. His Spirit living in me wants me to be merciful. If I’m not (if I refuse to let him transform my heart), there will be no mercy for me. Jesus says we’re blessed if we show mercy for then God can be merciful to us. God wants to alleviate the consequences of our sin and give us help in our miserable circumstances. How can I take hold of this mercy He has for me?
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16) I’m going to be clinging to His throne until I receive the mercy He has for me to pour out on others. Then it can be “Mercy Me” more consistently.
“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” (Ephesians 2:4, & 5)
Jenny has some wise words and a beautiful song at http://thefivestages.wordpress.com