The Mercy to Be Merciful

David Norczyk
5 min readJun 13, 2024

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The grace of God is the source of all Christian virtue. Grace is the work of God that benefits those who are being saved from the righteous wrath against ungodly, unrighteous sinners (Rom 1:18; 1 Thess 1:10). Included in this favor from God is the mercy of God.

God has mercy upon whomever He chooses to have mercy (Rom 9:15–16). Sinners cannot merit mercy. There is no work of man that persuades the Judge of all to show mercy to guilty sinners. It is the free will of God — a decision of His own wisdom and volition — to have pity on those He chooses.

Mercy is pity in action. Pity is sympathetic; but mercy is operative. Man is in the miserable state of sin; and pity is sad for those enslaved and suffering. Mercy seeks to relieve the pain of others.

God is merciful to those who are already condemned (Jn 3:19). He sent His only begotten Son to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21). God is the righteous Judge of all (2 Tim 4:8; Heb 12:23); and His judgments are just. He is right to judge sinners for their lawlessness (1 Jn 3:4). Thus, Jesus’ death on the cross reveals both the righteous wrath of God and the benevolent mercy of God.

Again, mercy is not a meritorious work of sinful flesh. The world has no heart for those who are downtrodden and oppressed. Actually, the world system is directly or indirectly behind much of human suffering. Even when world governments come to the aid of those in great need, love is not the motive. Love, however, compels the Christian (2 Cor 5:14); and mercy results. One is an organized system of human self-preservation. The other has Jesus Christ at its heart.

Christians are filled with the Spirit of Christ (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11). Aware of our status apart from Christ (Jn 15:5); we delight in His permanent indwelling presence. Christ in me controls me (Gal 2:20). God is love (1 Jn 4:8); and Christ is God (Titus 1:4; 2:13; 2 Pet 1:1). God is omniscient; therefore, He knows what people need even before they pray and ask for help.

Sin brings havoc to peoples’ lives. It hardens the hearts of people, who mindlessly blame God for the plight of man and for one’s personal woes. Sin is killing humanity in a slow death scenario (Rom 3:23; 6:23). Man sows sin; and he reaps death. Sin is a snare; and man is in a unhappy trap.

There is nothing in the natural man to generate mercy toward his fellow man. Therefore, mercy is extended by God, as a grace unto salvation. The children of God and the angels are agents of mercy dispatched to show mercy as God wills it. The merciful have been the recipients of mercy. They themselves have received the pardon and help of God. Thanksgiving abounds in them.

Abraham was wronged by nephew, Lot. Later, the patriarch had mercy when Lot was kidnapped. Joseph spared his wretched brothers, who previously sold him into slavery. Moses pleaded for Miriam when she was under God’s judgment for her usurping treachery. David resisted the spirit of revenge against Saul and even his grandson, Mephibosheth. Jesus had mercy on Peter following the fearful disciple’s betrayal of his Teacher and Lord. Our Lord did not have mercy on Judas Iscariot.

Mercy is closely related to forgiveness because the merciful invariably suffer wrong. Instead of demanding justice or seeking revenge, the merciful forgive and forget before they act in pity, even toward enemies. Christians who show mercy will be imperfect in their endeavors because of internal resistance produced by sin. Thus, whatever measure of mercy displayed is the prerogative of the indwelling Spirit, who is greater than all our sin.

When Christians, filled with love and compassion, are granted the ministry of mercy, they experience joy. God’s mercy toward the one previously shown mercy is brought to remembrance. This is a truly humbling walk down memory lane. The sentiment is, “I have been forgiven so much; I delight to do mercy toward my opponents.” The difference between Paul and Barnabas, regarding John Mark, was the mercy of Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement. Mercy is a monumental encouragement for all who witness such grace.

Jesus’ teaching of the Good Samaritan is a picture of mercy (Lk 10:30–37). The parable of the forgiven debtor also teaches the necessity of showing mercy to others when one has been himself shown mercy (Mt 18:23–35). The righteous man shows mercy and gives generously (Ps 37:21). This is especially true in the household of faith, where our action in meeting obvious need is a matter of what is actually in the heart. Our Christian identity demands it (1 Jn 3:17).

The attitude of the heart also matters to God. One might show mercy to his opponent because of his knowledge of his Christian obligation to do so. If mercy is issued begrudgingly; it is unacceptable. The benefit of being merciful is the blessedness of having done so. Happy is the man who has received mercy (not getting what he really deserves…justice); and happier is the man who extends mercy in the manner he himself has received it.

The mercy to be merciful is a blessing from God for us to be Christ-like in our dealings with others. Some people make it easy to be merciful toward them, when the occasion arises. Others put the grace of mercy to the test because of who they are and/or by what they have done. In the extreme cases requiring great mercy, the power of God’s love, pity, compassion, grace, and mercy shine brighter. God is glorified the more His mercy is put on display.

In summary, we have identified the source of all mercy as God Himself. God initiates the relationship of mercy toward whomever He wishes, according to His sovereign, eternal will. We have numerous examples of God’s people being merciful from the pages of Scripture. We have learned that mercy is intimately connected with reconciliation, forgiveness, love, pity, and repentance. Finally, every Christian knows something of God’s mercy, experientially, as a receiver of it. God extends mercy through His people; so that they also know the blessing of being a giver of mercy to others.

In conclusion, mercy is an attribute of God. It is His character to show mercy, as it is to show all of His other attributes, to the praise of His glory. Blessed are the merciful follows the recognition of spiritual bankruptcy by the born again, who lament personal, corporate, and community sin. With focus upon our deplorable status before God, apart from Christ, we humbly regard our low estate before God’s mercy and grace found us.

Christian joy includes becoming agents of God’s mercy. May God grant each believer the mercy to be merciful in every situation, with everyone who does not deserve mercy, but who is sure to receive it from us, by His grace and for His glory.

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

June 13, 2024

Matthew 5:7

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David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher