Why Showing Mercy Has Gone Out Of Style
"Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy"
What does showing mercy mean to you?
Have you shown mercy to someone who truly needed it?
The idea of showing mercy to others has gone out of style over the past few years and it's something that needs to be brought back. It has become a sign of weakness among those who want full retaliation for the sins of others. Forgiveness has taken a backseat to retaliation. An eye for an eye when all that is needed is love and mercy.
We see athletes talk about "showing no mercy" as if sports were a game of war and death should come to all losers.
We see the ugly side of arrogance from people who seek not forgiveness but revenge to quell their thirst for self-righteousness.
We see bloodthirsty governments from around the world treat its citizens as if they were pawns in a throwaway chess game without the hope of giving dignity, honor, love or even the slightest care needed.
We see the rich and powerful manipulate the poor for their own self greed yet the world goes on with eyes, ears and hearts closed to the matter.
Even Christians have trouble offering mercy to those who do them wrong.
Why has mercy become such a dirty word?
According to Pastor John Piper, "The answer is that mercy comes from a heart that has first felt its spiritual bankruptcy, and has come to grief over its sin, and has learned to wait meekly for the timing of the Lord, and to cry out in hunger for the work of his mercy to satisfy us with the righteousness we need."
We have become an arrogant people who sees not its own sins but the sins of others and has no need to to seek out the righteousness of God. Unfortunately, the more we become arrogant, the less mercy we show to others. Pastor John goes on to say, "Mercy comes from mercy. Our mercy to each other comes from God's mercy to us."
If we open our hearts to others and show mercy to them, God, in turn, will show mercy to us. We've forgotten how to act with a heart of compassion and it is tearing us apart.
How Do We Know When To Show Mercy For Others?
In all things, mercy is the most important attribute that we show others. It comes in how we treat others and how we react to what others do and say. In essence, the heart of mercy will show. Because God shows it to us then it is our obligation to show it to others. At one time or another, we have all been disobedient to God, yet the Lord, in all His infinite wisdom, shows us mercy when we deserve none at all.
According to Got Questions Ministry, "God’s children reflect His mercy and are therefore merciful themselves. The merciful in this world are blessed in the sense that they know God’s joy. The person who is merciful will be eternally happy because he knows God’s mercy."
Those are powerful words indeed! You must reflect God's mercy towards others if you are to receive mercy yourself.
But why should you offer mercy when the world doesn't shower mercy on you?
It all comes down to forgiveness. Forgiveness is at the heart of be merciful. Without it, you are no better than those who refuse to be merciful with you.
How many times have you made mistakes and hoped for forgiveness?
How many times did you receive it?
When I was a child, my mother told me I was a handful. Well, to be truthful, I was a real pain in the ass! I was always getting into trouble. I couldn't stop touching things at the grocery store. I'd knock things over all the time without watching what I was doing. And I had too far too many "accidents' that resulted in stuff being broken but my mother was firm with me. The one thing I remember above all was how merciful she was with me. Oh, I got scolded when I needed to be scolded but with a loving yet firm heart, she taught me lessons I've carried till this day.
Forgiveness is not dependent on what others do but on what you do with it. When you show mercy with a strong but loving hand, you echo the love shown to us by Gdod.
In the December 4, 2013 article entitled,"Blessed Are the Merciful, for They Shall Obtain Mercy!" by Janet Treadway, she puts it in perspective. "Just imagine how terrible we would feel if we fell short or made a mistake only to be rejected by God. How would we feel if we reached up to our Father for forgiveness only to have Him scream at us and totally ignore us?"
God will never ignore you but isn't that how we treat others when they hurt us? Isn't that how we react when someone makes mistakes?
How To Have A Merciful Heart?
Most of us aren't born with a merciful heart. It's something we need to learn and practice. Mercy is faith in action and to learn how to have a merciful heart, I'm reminded of the prayer from St Faustina which goes like this...
“Help me, O Lord,
… that my eyes may be merciful, so that I will never be suspicious or judge by appearances, but always look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and be of help to them;
… that my ears may be merciful, so that I will be attentive to my neighbors’ needs, and not indifferent to their pains and complaints;
… that my tongue may be merciful, so that I will never speak badly of others, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all;
… that my hands may be merciful and full of good deeds;
… that my feet may be merciful, so that I will hasten to help my neighbor, despite my own fatigue and weariness;
… that my heart may be merciful, so that I myself will share in all the sufferings of my neighbor” (Diary, 163).
It is a beautiful prayer that needs to be put in action on a daily basis. According to Pastor Richard Tow, you need to do these four things:
1- Understand and embrace God’s love for people—from the best of them to the worst of them
When you embrace God's love and not your own love for people you see others in a very different light. We see the good and bad but refrain from judgement. This is why you need to ask God to give you a merciful heart.
All of our gifts come from God. So it's only natural that we go to the source to receive a merciful and empathic heart. The arrogant say they don't need to be merciful but the humble person doesn’t look down on others when mistakes occur and know they are truly sorry for what they have done.
2- Understand the purpose of God’s commandments
The commandments were given for a purpose. They weren't put there to order us around but to help us live fruitful and meaningful lives. They were given to show us the pathway to heaven. Some people think of them as obstacles to freedom but I feel they are a roadmap to avoid the pitfalls of sin.
Isn't it time you gave others a second chance and forgive them for their mistakes?
It is through the commandments that we seek out and offer forgiveness to those who sin against us as we ask for forgiveness for our own sins.
These two bible verses are great examples of how we should offer mercy with a compassionate heart.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” - Ephesians 4:32,
“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” - Proverbs 19:11
Think about it... Would God give us the commandments if He wasn't offering a way through forgiveness and mercy?
3- Maintain an honest view of yourself and God’s dealings with you
Each of us is a sinner. There's no two ways about it yet the world dismisses sin as if it were just a nuisance. But we as Christians know better.
How do you view yourself in the world?
How do you view your actions against those who don't believe in sin?
Janet Treadway goes on to say, "Avoid punishing yourself and others when mistakes are made. Do you feel like giving up? Or do you forgive yourself and learn from your mistakes?"
God wants us to be self-aware. Aware of what we do, what we say and how we act. What is influencing your behavior and what are you doing to make it fall in line with God's principles?
Carlin Flora tells us that"Your ideas about what others think of you hinge on your self-concept—your own beliefs about who you are." But the problem with this concept comes on how God deals with us when we sin. If we deceive ourselves about who we are then what kind of mercy can we actually expect?
4- Understand the nature of God’s love
Janet finishes up by saying, "Treat others as God treats us. He knows our frame and how weak we are. He didn’t call the mighty of the world, but people He could gently work with. He called people who recognize that they are weak without Him."
Our weakness is what mercy is all about. God recognizes this in us and shows His love and mercy by forgiving us of our sins. We can learn valuable lessons from the way He treats us.
In Colossian 3:12-13, it is written, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another.”
That's showing mercy in action. We see it written about in James 2:13. "For judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment."
The next time you seek forgiveness, remember the times you did not give mercy to others and hold that close to your heart. This is what separates you from those that make judgments on others. Take time to become more familiar with the challenges facing others so that you can offer mercy when it is needed.
Let me leave you with one last bible verse that shows God's infinite love and mercy: "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace,expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:4-10