Mercy is given to those who are not deserving. This raises questions for those who show mercy when they have been deeply hurt. Then it is done as we follow God’s example…
Luke 6:35-36 35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
- What is the basis of mercy?
- How do you feel about the prospect of following this instruction?
- What about God might help you to live like this?
Example of God’s Mercy
Paul is someone who typifies the receiving of mercy.
1 Timothy 1:12-16 12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him,13 even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief.14 Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. 15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.
- How has Jesus stepped out on a limb to trust Paul with the task given to him?
- What does Paul’s situation say about the degree of mercy Jesus shows?
- Do you need to receive mercy from Jesus?
Mercy and Law
One group who found Jesus’ mercy the hardest to take were those who followed the laws most rigorously. Here is how Jesus challenged them.
Matthew 9:10-13 10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?*” 12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.”13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’* For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
- What was it that Jesus was criticised for?
- What kind of people did Jesus’ mercy put Him in contact with?How might your lifestyle be affected by mercy?
- What value did this criticism expose in those who criticised?
- What rules and values in our culture might hinder us from showing mercy?
Mercy and Power
A group who find mercy difficult are those in authority. The case of slave and master extends to any power situation of one in authority and another under authority.
Ephesians 6:9 Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favourites.
- What is the relationship of God to both slave and master?
- On what basis is mercy shown?
- How can the master exercise authority while still showing mercy?