In some cultures, mercy is seen as a weakness, primarily because of the belief that leadership is empowered by fear. Mercy is seen as the juxtaposition to fear.
Jesus comes on the scene teaching that we are to love our enemies (Luke 6:35), which must have provoked the question, “What kind of a leader will Jesus be?”
My brother-in-law Larry once spoke privately to a waitress, “Thank you for serving us so graciously during our meal. I have a Friend who gave me a message to tell you. He told me to ask you to think of the worse sin that you ever committed. Something you would not want anyone to ever know about.
Are you thinking of that sin now?” She nodded. “He wanted me to tell you that He forgives you that sin and any other that you want Him to forgive. He also said to tell you He loves you.”
She was teary-eyed and dumbfounded. Larry turned to leave and then turned back to say, “Oh, by the way, do you know my Friend?” She nodded affirmatively and said, “It was Jesus, right?” “Yes, that’s Him!” Larry replied. Their eyes met for a moment. “Thank you so much,” she said. Then Larry touched her shoulder and left. An unforgettable seed was planted.
In times of failure, one does not need a judge or critic condemning and inducing guilt. One may simply need a helpful person who mirrors our God of mercy (1 Cor 1:3; James 5:11) and forgiveness: “For the Lord Your God is a merciful God, He will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath” (Deut 4:31).
Sadly, most men are not like our God: “David said to Gad, ‘I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.’” Four hundred years later, Daniel wrote of Yahweh, “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him!” (Dan 9:9). The goal for the believer is to be as merciful to others as God is to us.
The verse prompts us to imitate the characteristics of our God. If He is merciful, then we, as His children, are obligated to learn to be just as merciful today by His grace and the empowerment of His Spirit. Think of someone to show mercy to today.
“Heavenly Father, what a wonderful thing to experience Your mercy each day! Open my eyes to the opportunities You are giving me to show mercy to others.”