Dare to Live as a Champion for Mercy
By Heather Lynn 5 Minute Read
Jesus was a champion for mercy and compassion. He showed mercy. He gave mercy. He WAS mercy. We see His acts of mercy many times throughout the gospels. When the crowd tried to silence the two blind men from calling out to Jesus in Matthew 20, He was moved to compassion. He knew the heart of the woman at the well in John 4 and showed her mercy like no one had before. Everyone around the adulterous woman in John 8 picked up a stone to give justice for her sins, yet Jesus exposed the hearts of those around her and gave her grace. So, what did all of those people have in common? They were people in need of compassion. These could have been people in your neighborhood, your community, your church. Just like Jesus gave mercy to the undeserved, so we should mirror His image.
Jesus is mercy. He understands who needs mercy and how to give mercy because it is ingrained in His character. Mercy involves two parts: a physical sense that offers compassion and a spiritual sense that forgives the accused. In Matthew 5:7, Jesus tells the crowd that those who give mercy will be blessed and receive mercy. Jesus made this bold statement knowing that He would display the ultimate act of mercy at the cross. God is loving and in His love He extends His grace to any man who will accept it. He is Holy and pure, and in our sin we need a Savior to clean our impurities. He is just, knowing that a penalty must be paid for our sins, but not wanting anyone to perish, He gave up His Son so that we might live. What an act of mercy and compassion. When we are merciful to others, we live out the kind of mercy Christ bestowed on us.
Forgiveness is a tough part of mercy. It is much easier to see a need in someone we don’t know and supply that need than it is to forgive those who have betrayed us. The sinful desire that lives in us constantly asks us to resent or judge the ones who have hurt us. Mercy asks us to treat them as innocent when they are guilty in our minds. The world sees mercy as unnecessary and often repays Christians with betrayal or hatred. No matter what the response is, we must continue to offer mercy to a thankless society. Our mercy does not depend on the response but is rooted deeply in the love of God. If we are to be like Him, then we must live like Him and stand for mercy when others around us cast stones.
So why is mercy necessary in our lives? Matthew 6:12-15 tells us that if we do not forgive and show others mercy, then we cannot expect to receive forgiveness. This verse does not say that our salvation depends on works, but that our works grow out of a saved and forgiven heart. The way we act towards others says a lot about our character and relationship with Christ, whether it is someone in our community who has a need or one who needs our forgiveness. The wrongful acts of those who have betrayed us could never amount to the many ways we deny Christ by how we live every day. Yet in His compassion, He died for every sin piled up against us. So how much more should we forgive others? Jesus explains the answer to this very question to Peter in Matthew 18:21-22 when he said, “seventy times seven.” In other words, an endless amount of times if we want to be like Christ. Mercy is necessary when living a life that strives to mirror our Creator.
Living with mercy and compassion often requires Christians to stand for peace and strive to be peacemakers. The meaning of “peacemaker” is not what the world thinks of keeping the peace or stopping a conflict. It is so much more. The biblical word for peace is “shalom” which means harmony or completeness, one with our God. A peacemaker works to expose one’s need for forgiveness and also reveals what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ. Peacemakers put others’ lives above their own as they open themselves up to the vulnerability, rejection, humility, and risks that come along with showing others mercy and compassion. This can be extremely difficult when that person is a close friend in need of truth. James 5:19-20 explains that whoever brings back a wandering sinner saves that person from death and brings about the forgiveness they need. When a friend is caught in sin, take advice from the Bible when confronting them: resist the desire to ignore the problem and save the friendship because God will hold us accountable for living in truth (Lev. 19:17), approach them with grace and not arrogance with the goal of restoration (Gal. 6:1-2), and go privately first and then seek the help and support of others (Matt. 18:16). Above all, seek the wisdom and prayer from others as Paul does in Ephesians 6:19-20, knowing that prayer moves mountains.
Just like the ones who have come before us, we are people in need of mercy. And the greatest act of mercy Jesus could give? His life. He gave up His life so that we could receive His forgiveness and show compassion to those around us. I challenge you to look for ways to show mercy just as Christ has given you mercy.