Webster’s Dictionary defines mercy as “kindness in excess of what might be expected or demanded of fairness.”
This sounds good, doesn’t? I think we all enjoy receiving “kindness in excess.”
However, God also asks us to show mercy to others. He wants us to purposely be good to people who don’t “deserve” it—even people who haven’t been good to us.
You may think, Well, Joyce, that’s not fair.
You’re right! Mercy isn’t fair, but it’s godly. It’s not fair, but it’s Christlike. And believe it or not, mercy is powerful.
The world may see mercy as a weakness—like we’re allowing someone to take advantage of us. However, God promises that when we place our trust in Him and choose to love other people like He does, then He will bless our lives abundantly.
Every single one of us has opportunities to show mercy each day…with friends and family, coworkers and even the clerk at the grocery store. And when we do what God leads us to do, He always brings justice into our life.
Whenever people hurt or disappoint us, our human nature leads us to dislike them because of their shortcomings. But God’s desire for us is to love all people, including our enemies (see Matthew 5:43-48).
If they can see love in your heart—instead of anger and judgment—that shows them “kindness in excess of what might be expected.”
More importantly, it gives them hard evidence that Christ is working in you!
I believe one of the greatest privileges we have in life is to follow His example, and we can do that by being generous in spirit and giving mercy to others as they need it.
The Wisdom of Losing Count
When someone hurts or offends us, it’s easy to make a list and keep count of everything they’ve ever done wrong. But God is asking us to be like Him.
When my husband, Dave, and I were newly married, I was pretty good at keeping score. Every time we had an argument, I would bring up every single thing he ever did to me since the day I met him.
I’ll never forget one day, after I recited my list, when Dave looked at me and said, “Where in the world do you keep all that stuff?”
I’ve learned the best thing we can do for ourselves is to let go of the hurt, lose count of how others have wronged us, and leave the past in the past.
There’s a Why Behind the What
I always say that mercy understands the why behind the what. It cares about the person, not just what they’ve done to us.
When someone hurts us, our first inclination is to think, “You’re not going to treat me that way. And if you think you’re going to get by with it, you have another thing coming!”
However, it helps to remember that everyone who acts badly is hurting in some way.
Luke 6:36-37 says, Be merciful just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged…Forgive, and you will be forgiven (NIV).
We reap what we sow, and whatever we give away to others is what we’ll receive in return.
If you want mercy, then sow mercy. If you need a friend, then sow friendliness. If you have financial needs, then look for ways to meet someone else’s needs.
It’s easy to judge. I cringe when I look back at the extremely critical and judgmental person I used to be. In fact, before I was a serious Christian, judging others was one of my favorite things to do.
But the Bible says, “Judge not” (see Matthew 7:1). I wasn’t only sowing bad seed—I was making myself miserable by not walking in love and believing the best of others.
The truth is, when we sow mercy, we reap a harvest of peace, joy and healthy relationships. We also take a giant step forward spiritually.
Because choosing to do what’s right—even when it hurts—causes us to grow and mature in an amazing way.
So, I ask you: Is there anyone you can extend mercy to today?