Mercy is a wonderful gift. To be pardoned of a sin even though we deserve consequences. Do you yearn for mercy? Do you struggle to give mercy to others? The word, mercy, is brought up constantly in the Bible. Why is it important to God and how we can be more merciful? Join us as we dive into the Bible and learn more about this godly character trait.
What is Mercy?
Webster dictionary defines mercy as: “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power” or as
“compassionate treatment of those in distress”
How Many Times is it mentioned in the Bible?
It’s mentioned 262 times in the King James Version, 157 times in the English Standard Version, 99 times in the New American Standard Bible, 170 times in the Amplified Bible, and 146 in the New English Translation, according to Bible Gateway. However, it’s mentioned additionally as “mercies,” and “merciful.” Regardless of your translation, mercy is mentioned a lot. Have we been merciful a lot? Probably not as often as we should. Kids and spouses can drive us crazy. Co-workers, friends, family, people at church, neighbors, etc. can upset us. How do we react? It is so easy to lose our control and hurt them back. It is much harder to turn the other cheek and forgive.
What does the Bible say about Mercy?
Here are a few of the many verses found in the Bible that mention mercy:
Colossians 3:12 NIV
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
1 John 1:9 NIV
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
James 2:13 NIV
13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Micah 6:8 NIV
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Matthew 5:7 NIV
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
How do We Give Mercy to Those Who Have Wronged Us?
I’ll be the first to say this is not an easy thing to do. I come from a troubled childhood that still affects my adult life. I am almost 40 years old and I still have to put up with hurtful family members on a regular basis. And Satan has used this sensitive area of my life to attack periodically, often unexpectedly by those closest to me.
I have written previous posts on anger and bitterness, as well as spiritual warfare. Satan is relentless. I have learned the hard way about the importance of protecting yourself – Satan goes for your strengths and weaknesses. Learn what those are and use prayer and the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) to protect yourself and your witness! Satan will do everything he can so separate you from God and to make your christian witness look bad. And he can be very effective. Satan’s stealth and cunning can take your breath away.
How do we give mercy? God. All mercy comes from Him above. Call on God to help you in times of hurt. I constantly ask God to give me His love and forgiveness for others.
An easy example is a time when one of our children was very disobedient and disrespectful. We were to leave for a day trip to the beach with school friends. After the incident, I had told her that her punishment was that she had lost the privilege of going to the beach. I could tell she was so hurt. I thought about the circumstances more and the punishment, spoke to my husband, and agreed she would still have punishments, but that I was not going to take this rare day to the beach away from her. I granted her mercy and talked to our daughter about the importance of showing mercy.
A more complex example relates to military doctors. Military doctors may face ethical conflicts when they must treat their own and enemy soldiers during combat and their resources are limited. Legally under the Geneva Convention, they are instructed to treat enemy soldiers equally. (Edmund G. Howe, MD, JD, Military Medicine) It could be really difficult to treat patients who are killing your own countrymen, yet they provide mercy to all who need it. Dr. Lee Warren also spoke about this on a recent Focus on the Family podcast and in his recent book, I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know.
Providing mercy to those who have hurt us may feel impossible. However, God is in the business of the impossible!
A Warning Against Retaliation
God gives us a grave warning against retaliation in the story of David and his wise advisor, Ahithophel (2 Samuel 11,12, 15-18).
God had gifted Ahithophel with great wisdom (2 Samuel 16:23). He was David’s advisor for many years and was greatly trusted. Yet one day David hurts him greatly. David sleeps with Ahithophel’s granddaughter, Bathsheba, who was already married and ruins her marriage. Ahithophel leaves David and eventually starts advising David’s son, Absalom, to take the kingdom away from his dad, sleep with all of David’s concubines, and asks to kill David himself. When eventually Absalom stops taking advice from Ahithophel, Ahithophel puts his house in order and kills himself.
Ahithophel allowed David to ruin his life. It is so easy to allow our anger to turn to bitterness and for the unforgiven feelings to poison our lives. If this is plaguing your life, beg God to take these feelings from your life and allow God to turn your life around and fill it with love and forgiveness. We cannot do it on our own – but God and His unending love and mercy can heal your heart!
Romans 12:21 NIV
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We all love receiving mercy! But giving it can be much harder. Thank God for the many mercies you have received in your life and ask God to help you pass on mercy. Showing mercy is out of obedience to God and it also allows you to heal and move on. Don’t let Satan and his terrible desire to defeat you and keep you ineffective for God come true! With God, you are stronger than Satan any day of the week!
If you don’t know God and His unending mercies, it’s not too late! No sins are too great for God and His great love and mercy. Apologize for your sins and invite God into your life today. It will be the best decision you ever make!