With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 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 (Micah 6:6-8).
Mercy is when you give someone a second chance even when they don’t deserve it – Veggie Tales (amazon link). Mercy is compassion towards someone who has offended you or who is you consider your adversary (thefreedictionary.com). The world tells you, “don’t get mad, get even” and “never forget”. But God tells us to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1) AND a man’s wisdom give him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense (Prov. 9:11).
The Bible teaches us that there is freedom in forgiveness. But mercy is broader than forgiveness. Mercy comes before forgiveness. When you are able to set aside your own hurt or angry feelings and instead feel compassion for another person, this is mercy, which leads to the act of forgiving a mistake or a wrong. God does this for us all day long. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love…He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgression from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are but dust (Ps 103:8, 10-14).
In everything Jesus is the perfect example of how we are to live on this earth. Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if your lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be paid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then our reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as our Father is merciful (Luke 6:32-36). But, hello, this is Jesus speaking! Of course He can love His enemies because He is perfect.
How can we, who are imperfect and flawed, do this difficult thing? Even Paul found it hard to be like Jesus all the time. I find this law at work: although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from the body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 7:21-25). We are called to be like Jesus but, since we can not do it alone, He is there to help us.
We are promised, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Cor. 5:17). One of my all time favorite scriptures is when Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart form me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Abide means to live or remain. The only way we can be more like Him is to immerse ourselves in Him.
Read and memorize scriptures. Pray and listen to God. We must plant His Word deep in our hearts. God is the only one who can transform us to be like Jesus. The seed planted in our hearts will bear fruit…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). As God changes us to be more like Him, we can glorify Him (reflect His images to others). As He blesses us, we can be a blessing to others. As we become aware of all He has done for us, we are called to a higher standard.
Jesus showed us that we owe to others what He has freely given us, “Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you? (Matt 18:33). We are to honor His name and remember that sometimes we are the only Bible someone else might read, so whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Col 3:17).
Remember mercy is the feeling of compassion, forgiveness is the act. We cannot do either unless we yield to the Lord and allow Him grow the seed that He has already planted in our hearts into the fruit He would have us to bear. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart…(Luke 6:45).