by Wayne Barber
The word "mercy" is a wonderful word in Scripture. It is the word éleos. Mercy is not the same as grace. Grace is God's transforming power in our lives and deals with our sin. But mercy is the ability that God gives, either directly or through another, to help us bear up under the consequences of our sin. That is why we are not told to show grace but we are told to show mercy. In fact, the mercy that will be shown to us one day will be according to the mercy we have been willing in God's power to show to others. Tucked away in the little book of James are these potent words: "So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment" (vv. 2:12,13).
When one is living by the "law of liberty," this means, in my understanding, living by the "law of hearing," as found in James1:25. Under the "law of liberty," when one hears the Word he must immediately respond to it in obedience, and in so doing is set free from himself. He is liberated from the power of his flesh. When that takes place, then the Spirit produces in him a compassionate heart which motivates the mercy that is desperately needed in this world. Mercy is not some human emotion worked up and then displayed so we can take credit for it; it is a fruit of God working in a "doer of the Word" who has learned to live by the law of liberty.
We all desperately need this mercy. We all make stupid choices and they all have their consequences. We are all guilty and therefore we all are in need of the ability to bear up under the consequences of our sin. A person who shows mercy to others is a person who lives in the mercy that God is showing him. In Matthew 5: 7 it says, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy." The word "blessed" is makários. It means "fully, inwardly satisfied," not just "happy," as some translate it. Matthew is saying that those who are fully, inwardly satisfied with Christ are those who are the ones showing others mercy. The implication is that they themselves are daily living in the mercies that God is bestowing upon them. Literally the verse should read "Blessed, the merciful for they shall receive mercy."
When I think of God's mercy that I do not deserve, and the people He has led into my life to help me bear up under the consequences of my sin, how can I be anything but merciful to others when I witness their suffering around me? I love the verse in 2 Cor. 1:3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort." He is the well of all comfort. Unless you've drunk from that well, then you have no idea of what I'm talking about.
You see, there are some in the Body of Christ that seem so insensitive to the consequences of another's sin. They are so judgmental and opinionated when it comes to those who do not make wise choices. May I just suggest to that dear proud brother that his day is coming. No one has arrived, and when we do fail and are under the difficult pain of the consequences of wrong choices, it is then that we will cry out for God's mercies. It is then that we will praise Him for the kind brother who comes alongside us and doesn't judge us, because he has been there, but simply loves us and helps us in our time of need. Oh, the mercies of God! They are fresh every day! And oh, how wonderful are those believers that allow God to work in them and through them that help us bear up under the consequences of our sin. Open our eyes, Lord, that we might see others who are desperate in their need!