Growing up, mercy was the constant focus of my prayers. I felt like I was constantly asking God to make people in my world show me mercy. Be it my parents, my teachers, or older kids who I was a smart-aleck to, I was always trying to dodge the bullet of punishment. I wanted for everyone in my world to show me mercy, but when it came to anyone else, namely my sister, I wanted the hammer of justice brought down. It is always funny how that works. When we speed or accidentally run a red light, we hope there is no cop around or that we get let off with a warning, but if someone else does the same, we wish that they would get the biggest fine possible.
I was reading through the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5 and I came across this in verse 7, “Blessed the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” The first thing that came to my mind as a kid seeing this verse was, “See, if everyone was merciful to me, they would get mercy too.” It is easy for us to view this as a transaction statement, or worse, a transaction that applies to others before ourselves. Our lives are constant testimonies to the mercy of God. Every breath we breathe is a mercy from God because He is withholding the punishment which we are due for our sins. Every time we sin and He does not erase us from existence, He relents, showing us mercy rather than justice. Yet we expect justice for those around us rather than seeking mercy for them also.
This is a statement that should produce heart change in us. We should see the mercy we have received and seek to show mercy to others. In Luke 6:36, it says, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” We should see the mercy of God and seek to emulate it rather than expect it from others. The mercy we receive should soften our hearts so that instead of wishing punishment on those who wrong us, we should show them mercy and seek mercy for them, just as Christ sought mercy and grace for us.
This is also a statement that should erase fear within us. We see in James 2:13, it says, “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” The mercy we show and have been shown triumphs over the judgment and punishment for our sins. We do not have to worry about receiving the punishment we are due, because the mercy we have received is enough. We can be confident in He who has shown us mercy. That confidence should be the reason you show mercy to others.