Compassion International has a creative and beautiful way of explaining mercy.
Mercy is the compassionate treatment of those in distress, especially when it is within one’s power to punish or harm them. The word “mercy” derives from the medieval Latin word “merced” or “merces,” which means “price paid.” In the legal sense, mercy often refers to compassionate behavior from a person in power, such as when a judge shows clemency, leniency or mercy during sentencing.
Mercy appears in the Bible as it relates to forgiveness or withholding punishment. For example, God the Father showed mercy on us when he sacrificed his son, Christ Jesus, on the cross to pay the price for our sins. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” Psalm 51:1
The Bible also defines mercy as being—beyond forgiveness and withholding punishment. God shows his mercy for those who are suffering through healing, comfort, the alleviation of suffering and caring about those in distress. He acts from compassion and acts with mercy. In Matthew 17:15, Jesus showed compassion and healed a child suffering from seizures which demonstrates that He mercifully loves, heals, and restores. See, www.compassion.com
The thing about mercy, is that it’s a blessing ANYONE—can give away. We are ALL in positions of power or influence over someone else. We ALL can choose to exercise mercy. For example, we can be kind to the waiter who is having a bad day and brings us the wrong order. We can show grace to the person who has offended us. We can pray for the person who tailgates us and cuts us off in traffic. We can refrain from being vindictive against someone who “deserves it.” We can refrain from acting smug when the person who has wronged us falls into bad times.
When we exercise mercy by withholding judgment—we find peace.
But…the gift of mercy gives us amazing opportunities far beyond withholding unkind treatment. When we dig deeper into mercy and understand better the great mercy we have received from God, we are motivated to go much further. We desire to comfort others. We desire to alleviate suffering by caring for those in distress. In fact…
The abundant mercy we receive from God, awakens us to the great blessings we can have by becoming a fountain of compassion.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.”Psalms 103:8,10-12,17
When we show mercy to others the way God shows mercy to us, we are filled with the fullness of God. God is never empty. He is never dissatisfied. When we have experienced His mercy we are so fully satisfied that we overflow and even bless those who mistreat us—with the great blessings of God.
Mercy is a fountain that flows from the throne of God’s grace.
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