By David Chadwick
“Mercyt riumphs over judgment.”—James 2:13 NIV
Our kids loved to wrestle with each other when they were little. If things got out of hand, the one who felt overpowered could cry, “Mercy!” It was that child’s signal of surrender. All tickling and roughhousing (at least in theory) was to cease.
Mercy calls out to the stronger to acknowledge the weaker one’s plight and show compassion. Mercy is woven throughout the Bible. It’s at the heart of God’s motivation for our salvation.
Yet mercy is sometimes treated as a lesser virtue. Mistaken for mere sentimentality or emotionalism, mercy is seen by some as weakness. But God’s Word challenges us to put mercy in its rightful place. Mercy is worthy of our deepest respect. It’s the social code by which believers are called to live.
As followers of Jesus, we are encouraged to live a life of words and deeds governed by mercy: “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:12-13 NIV).
Mercy, or eleos in the Greek, describes the compassion which motivates us to alleviate another’s misery and relieve their suffering. Jesus used the story of the Good Samaritan to demonstrate mercy:
“‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise’” (Luke 10:36-37 NIV).
Mercy also characterizes the way God treats me. Thus, it should describe the way I treat others – pure and simple. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.
Lord, slow me down today. Show me what causes my heart to be hard at times... resistant to giving or receiving mercy. I pray for a new vision of mercy as the true heart of the Savior. Make me alert to opportunities to show mercy to one of your children who is hurting.
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