Christians talk about God’s mercy every day. We sing about it. We read about it. We thank God for it. But how often do we demonstrate mercy ourselves?
Simply put, showing mercy is the act of showing compassion or pity to someone else, especially if that someone else has harmed you in some way. In Christian contexts, mercy often goes hand-in-hand with forgiveness. But this isn’t always the case. Different types of mercy may involve forgiveness, while others simply involve showing the love of God to someone who needs it.
Different Types of Mercy
You can think of mercy as falling into one of three categories:
- Active mercy: seeking out and ministering to anyone in need of help, support, or even just a shoulder to cry on. Volunteers for a domestic violence shelter or someone who visits a grieving friend demonstrate this type of mercy.
- Generous mercy: being slow to anger and judgment, and not immediately assuming the worst of people in the absence of evidence. An act as simple as counting to ten when angry can demonstrate generous mercy.
- Sacrificial mercy: accepting or taking on inconvenience or trouble to relieve another person of it. This is the type of mercy Jesus showed us on the cross. When we go out of our way to make things easier on someone else by making things harder on ourselves, we demonstrate sacrificial mercy.
Why God Values Mercy
Mercy, especially sacrificial mercy, is a fundamental reflection of God’s character. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to save us and demonstrate His endless love for us. God takes mercy very seriously–so seriously, in fact, that the Bible says He values mercy even more than the sacrifices also commanded in the Old Testament. Understanding and imitating this aspect of God’s character matters much more than simply doing what Christians are expected to do.
Why We Should Value Mercy
While we can never repay God for His sacrificial mercy, we are instructed to show this mercy to others. After all, we have been shown mercy that saved us forever. The least we can do is show that same kind of love to others! Making mercy a part of our everyday lives also shows a profound respect for God’s character and gratitude for your own salvation.
Blessed are the Merciful
Jesus said “Blessed are the merciful” for a very good reason. By showing mercy to others, we give thanks to God for the mercy we have been shown ourselves. This simple act of gratitude means far more to God than the most elaborate worship service.
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