There is a harshness in our culture (and too often it is creeping into the church) that is quick to believe the worst about a person, and slow to think the best. It is so easy to slide into making much of other people’s failings and little of their strengths and virtues. A merciful person goes the other way—he or she will make more of a person’s virtues than their failings.
“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’” (Matthew 9:13)
Think of the difference that one teacher who is merciful can make in a school. Think of the difference in a business or a church or a family when there’s one person with a tender heart who cares and acts for the good of others.
What would this look like if we all did the same? Where and how can I be merciful?
Seven Opportunities for Manifesting Mercy
1. Material needs
If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? (1 John 3:17)
The Good Samaritan opened his heart to a person in need and did something to help him. Sinclair Ferguson says:
Mercy is getting down on your hands and knees and doing something to restore dignity to someone whose life has been broken by sin.
Then Ferguson says:
[The Samaritan] did not deal with the cause of the man’s need by chasing the robbers… [and] he did not complain about the failure of society to meet the man’s need… The Samaritan addressed the immediate need set before him and did what he could to bring relief.
2. Spiritual struggles
Have mercy on those who doubt. (Jude 22)
God calls us to have a tender heart towards brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling in their faith. Have mercy on those who doubt.
I once heard Warren Wiersbe say if he could have his time over again, he would “do more to encourage God’s people.”