Luke 6:36 – Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
One of my favorite traditional hymns is “Great is Thy Faithfulness” based on verses 22 and 23 of the book of Lamentations. You are probably familiar with this one as well, especially the refrain:
“Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see: all I have needed thy hand hath provided – Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!”
What a comfort to know that as sure as the sun rises, the Lord’s mercies are fresh with each passing day! So what exactly are these mercies and what does being merciful really mean?
First of all, let’s define mercy. According to the 1828 Webster’s dictionary, mercy is:
that benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better then he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment.
Secondly, let’s consider what is needed to be merciful. Benevolence, mildness, and tenderness are all descriptions of the heart. Benevolence describes a disposition to do good, a sincere desire to promote the prosperity of others. Tenderheartedness describes the susceptibility of characteristics such as pity, kindness, and compassion (such as in Ephesians – Be ye kind to one another and tenderhearted). So whether one shows mercy or withholds it is really a heart issue.
Thirdly, what does mercy consist of? Mercy is treating someone who has wronged you better then he or she deserves. And also it means readily forgiving the offender of the offense(s). Remember the Parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16: 1-13)? That’s a great example of how mercy is much easier to receive than give.
Call to Action
Does being merciful seem too hard? Have you ever struggled showing mercy to someone who clearly did not deserve it?
Remember (and maybe even sing) the words of Great is Thy Faithfulness…His mercies are new every morning! Why does this matter? Because we have done far worse to offend our Lord then anyone can ever do to us and yet His mercies are never ending. He willingly forgives our sins and offenses even though we do not deserve it!
In the Beatitudes, Christ taught “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Take the time to teach your family the importance of both receiving mercy and giving it and be sure to rejoice in the new mercies given to you each morning!