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The Importance of Mercy in Christian Living

Carola is a Christian writer and author of several books. She writes about Christian living, relationships, and other related topics.

the-importance-of-mercy-in-a-christian-life

Mercy is not something we talk about much these days. Instead, we talk about people getting their rights. People are suing each other at the drop of a hat and taking revenge when they feel they have been wronged. They lash out at situations they think are wrong or unjust.

One thing that has struck me recently on various reality shows is how quick people are so quick to judge and criticize other people through social media, text, or email. One talk show featured a woman who had been cleared of murder charges by law enforcement but was harassed through social media by people who judged her to be a murderer. In our world, mercy is sadly lacking – and desperately needed.

Defining Mercy

Mercy is the ability to overlook an offense and give someone a second chance. It is an act of love towards people who hurt us. Merciful people show compassion, sympathize, and are patient, kind, and tender-hearted. They are moved to take care of the poor and disadvantaged. They do not retaliate and take revenge when people offend them. Instead, they view God as their avenger and trust in His justice.

Mercy is an important quality for Christians to cultivate and is a big theme in the Bible. God promises to be merciful if we repent and turn away from sin (Psalm 86:5, Luke 6:36). He is rich in mercy because of His great love for us. We were dead in our sin, but we were made alive by His grace (Ephesians 2:4-5. We do not deserve this free gift given by the grace of God.

The Parable of the Unjust Servant

Jesus told a parable about an unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:23-35. A king had decided to settle his accounts with his servants. As he began, he spoke to a man who owed him the equivalent of ten thousand bags of gold. The servant could not pay, so the master ordered that he and his family be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell to his knees and begged: “Be patient with me, and I will pay back everything.” The master pitied him, canceled the debt, and released him. So the servant got off scot-free.

As the forgiven servant was strolling down a lane, he met a fellow servant who owed him the equivalent of a hundred silver coins. The forgiven servant grabbed the poor guy and started to choke him, demanding: “Pay back what you owe me.” The guy with the debt fell to his knees and said, “Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.”

The forgiven servant did not act in the same way as his master did. He refused the fellow servant’s request and threw him into prison until he could pay the debt. The other servants of the king were outraged and reported the forgiven servant’s behavior to his master what had happened.

The master was angry and said: “You wicked servant. I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” And with that, he had the unjust servant thrown into jail.

The Benefits of Being Merciful

Mercy is an important quality for Christians to cultivate and is a big theme in the Bible. God promises to be compassionate toward us if we repent and turn away from sin (Psalm 86:5, Proverbs 28:13, Luke 6:36). He is rich in mercy because of His great love for us. We were dead in our sin, but we were made alive by His grace (Ephesians 2:4-5. We can boldly go to the throne of grace and receive His graciousness (Hebrews 4:16). We do not deserve this free gift given by the grace of God.

The book Grace & Mercy: A Devotional Journey by authors Chris Dillashaw and Kathleen Yancosek offer readers devotions that focus on grace and mercy.

Mercy is actually good for our physical and mental health (Proverbs 11:17,14:21). This attitude also leads us to see the needs of others and cultivates a desire to help them. Jesus said that the merciful are blessed because they are shown mercy (Matthew 5:7). If we as Christians want people to be merciful to us, we must be lenient to them (Matthew 5:7, Luke 6:36). Jesus said that we will not receive leniency if we do not forgive those who owe us something (Proverbs 29:1, 2 Peter 3:9).

Like the unjust servant, we will be judged and condemned if we do not practice it ourselves. Judgment will not only hurt us, but it may also hurt innocent people. The unjust servant may have had a family that was financially dependent on him, for example.

the-importance-of-mercy-in-a-christian-life

The Benefits of Being Merciful

Mercy is an important quality for Christians to cultivate and is a big theme in the Bible. God promises to be compassionate toward us if we repent and turn away from sin (Psalm 86:5, Proverbs 28:13, Luke 6:36). He is rich in mercy because of His great love for us. We were dead in our sin, but we were made alive by His grace (Ephesians 2:4-5.

We can boldly go to the throne of grace and receive His graciousness (Hebrews 4:16). We do not deserve this free gift given by the grace of God. The book Grace & Mercy: A Devotional Journey by authors Chris Dillashaw and Kathleen Yancosek, offer readers devotions that focus on grace and mercy.

Mercy is actually good for our physical and mental health (Proverbs 11:17,14:21). This attitude also leads us to see the needs of others and cultivates a desire to help them. Jesus said that the merciful are blessed because they are shown mercy (Matthew 5:7). If we as Christians want people to be merciful to us, we must be lenient to them (Matthew 5:7, Luke 6:36). Jesus said that we would not receive leniency if we do not forgive those who owe us something (Proverbs 29:1, 2 Peter 3:9).

Like the unjust servant, we will be judged and condemned if we do not practice it ourselves. Judgment will not only hurt us, but it may also hurt innocent people. The unjust servant may have had a family that was financially dependent on him, for example.

Mercy and Accountability

So does mercy mean that we do not hold people accountable for their sins and should always rescue them from the consequences of their actions? No. We may choose to overlook certain offenses but need to consider how to address crimes that have been committed or deal with repeat offenders.

We should not allow someone to continually steal from us, exploit, or abuse us in some way, thinking that we are being merciful. Like the master in the parable, we may decide to allow the offender to suffer the consequences of their actions or to be charged with a crime. We should make this decision in love with the best interests of the offending person in mind.

the-importance-of-mercy-in-a-christian-life

Developing a Spirit of Mercy

There are several ways that we can be merciful to others.

Forgive Others

Being lenient is the first step to forgiving others. Jesus said that we would not receive mercy if we do not forgive those who owe us something (Proverbs 29:1, 2 Peter 3:9). Forgiveness is another necessary part of living a Christian life. We need to let go of our anger and emotional pain.

When the master extended mercy to the forgiven servant, he had lost ten thousand bags of gold – a huge loss. The king probably knew that the servant could not pay him back. Sometimes mercy means that we suffer some type of loss.

Do Not Judge

Judgment is the opposite of mercy. Judgment condemns others and shows no compassion, while mercy creates tolerance, acceptance, and patience with others (James 2:13).

Be Patient

Patience is a fruit of the spirit that comes into play when we extend mercy to others. We become more tolerant of people's faults and things about them that may bother us, such as people having doubts about Christianity (Jude 1:22-23). We should overlook offenses and not take things personally. We accept people unconditionally without judgment. We can offer a second chance, if needed.

Choose Not to Take Revenge

When others hurt us, our human nature prompts us to lash out verbally or take revenge in some way. We Christians have to work on developing an attitude of mercy with the help of the Holy Spirit. The master could have thrown the forgiven servant into a debtor’s prison, but he chose not to do that. Instead, he took pity on the servant, forgiving and canceling the debt and releasing him.

God desires mercy, not sacrifice (Matthew 9:13). We need to develop a spirit of mercy towards others to maintain our relationship with God. In all, everyone benefits when we treat other people with compassion, tolerance, and forbearance.

References:

Top 10 Bible Verses About Mercy with Commentary, Jack Wellman, What Christians Want to Know
Blessed Are the Merciful, John W. Ritenbaugh, discovergod.com
What Is Mercy? Bible Verses and Meaning, Christianity.com

© 2015 Carola Finch

Comments

schoolgirlforreal on November 17, 2017:

Very lovely to read this. Thankyou for your lovely peaceful wonderful points and scripture to go along. The ideal Christian has mercy.

In the our father, we forgive as we are forgiven. God says he cannot forgive us if we dont forgive!!!!

I pray when im upset or angry . i pray for the ability 2 forgive. I pray the resentment prayer.

Praying 4 those who hurt me heals

Also good point in not letting leeches or people who take advantage have u.

Thanks

I just wrote a hub about mercy

Blessings

Rose

Junie Rutkevich from Cripple Creek on November 02, 2016:

Great hub. Unfortunately in the worldly wisdom pride has more value than mercy. To show mercy, the person need to have a compassion toward another being. It is compassion that in short supply these days

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 20, 2015:

You are right. Discussions on topics like mercy are rare. You suggestions under developing a spirit of mercy are very helpful. Thanks!

Yvette Stupart PhD from Jamaica on August 08, 2015:

Thanks for the timely reminder Carola.

Blessings,

Yvette

mabelhenry from Harrisburlg, Pennsylvania on August 08, 2015:

Good afternoon, Carola: This is a well written hub on mercy. Your approach and stance is that of kindness. We all love to receive mercy, but we are challenged when we have to give it.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8 KJV).

When we love mercy as freely as we have received it, we will freely give it, because it is all apart of respecting the great commandment and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Just as in the story of the "Good Samaritan" There was a priest, a levite who both saw the wounded man as a problem to avoid, unlike the man full of compassion. The mercy he showed is recorded for our admonition and so that we too will not cross over to the other side of the street when someone is in need of mercy. Not showing mercy is the equivalent of crossing over to the other side of the street.

Thanks for sharing and reminding us all of God's mercy which endures forever. Voted up and sharing. Have a great weekend.

JR Krishna from India on August 07, 2015:

Excellent hub

I wanted this. felt a lot of relief after reading

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