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The Gift of Mercy
“A Ready Help in Time of Need”
I. Blessed Are The Merciful.
The concept of mercy is seen throughout Scripture, from the Fall to the consummation of history at the return of Christ. Mercy is a desperately needed gift. The Lord requires His people to follow His example by extending mercy to others.
To discover its essence we will look at three basic aspects of mercy: 1) its meaning, 2) its source, & 3) its practice.
A. The Meaning of Mercy.
1. The Religionist were not Inclined to show Mercy.
a) Many Thought Mercy was Considered One of the Least Virtues.
1) It was in the same category as loving those who had shown love to you.
(a) You loved those who loved you, and you showed mercy to those who showed mercy to you.
1. That attitude was condemned by Jesus later in the Sermon on the Mount.
You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you… For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? (Matthew 5:43-47 NKJV)
2. From a casual reading of (Matt.5:7) it appears that:
a. The way to get along with people is to be nice to them; and the way to receive benefit from people is to bestow some benefit on them.
b. The way to win friends and influence people is to be nice to them & they will be nice in return.
c. Our being merciful causes those around us, especially those to whom we show mercy, to be merciful to us. Mercy given will mean mercy received. For such people, mercy is shown to others purely in an effort toward self-seeking.
The ancient rabbi Gamaliel is quoted in the Talmud as saying, “Whenever thou hast mercy, God will have mercy upon thee, and if thou hast not mercy, neither will God have mercy on thee.” Gamaliel’s idea is right.
When God is involved there will be mercy for mercy. “If you forgive men for their transgressions,” Jesus said, “your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matt. 6:14-15).
b) Some Say ‘mercy’ is A Sign of Weakness.
1) You Didn’t Have What It Takes To Be A Real Man.
The Romans glorified manly courage, strict justice, firm discipline, and, above all, absolute power. They looked down on mercy, because mercy to them was weakness, and weakness was despised above all other human limitations.
2. This Principle does not Always Work Among Men.
a) Men Are Not Naturally Inclined to Repay Mercy for Mercy.
1) Mankind’s Heart is Vengeful By Nature & Likes To Get Even
(a) The idea “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” sounds good.
1. Mans problem is that while he wants to receive mercy from God, he also wants to dispense justice on others. We don’t want people to get away with evil against us.
(b) The best illustration of that fact is the Lord Himself.
1. Jesus Christ was the most merciful human being who ever lived.
a. He reached out to heal the sick, restore the crippled, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and even life to the dead.
b. He found prostitutes, tax collectors, the debauched and the drunken, and drew them into His circle of love and forgiveness.
c. When the scribes and Pharisees brought the adulteress to Him to see if He would agree to her stoning, He confronted them with their merciless hypocrisy: “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” When no one stepped forward to condemn her, Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more” (John 8:7-11).
d. Jesus wept with the sorrowing and gave companionship to the lonely. He took little children into His arms and blessed them. He was merciful to everyone.
e. Luke 4:40; 17:13; Matt.15:22; 17:15; 19:13-15; Mk.2:16-17; 10:47
b) What Was the Response of Jesus Showing Mercy?
1) He shamed the woman’s accusers into inaction, but they did not become merciful.
(a) By the time the accounts of John 8 ended, Jesus’ opponents “picked up stones to throw at Him” (v. 59).
(b) When the scribes and Pharisees saw Jesus “eating with the sinners and tax-gatherers,” they asked His disciples why their Master associated with such unworthy people (Mark 2:16).
(c) The more Jesus showed mercy, the more He showed up the unmercifulness of the Jewish religious leaders.
(d) The more He showed mercy, the more they were determined to put Him out of the way. The ultimate outcome of His mercy was the cross.
2) The fifth beatitude does not teach that mercy to men brings mercy from men, but that mercy to men brings mercy from God.
(a) If we are merciful to others, God will be merciful to us, whether men are or not.
(b) Those who are merciful ... shall receive mercy from God. God gives the divine blessings to those who obey His divine standards.
3. What Is Mercy Related To?
a) Four Areas
1) Mercy & Love (Eph.2:4-5) – Forgiveness flows out of mercy, and mercy flows out of love.
2) Mercy & Forgiveness –we will talk about that a little later.
3) Mercy & Grace (2Tim.1:2) – mercy relates to the negative, grace relates to the positive Mercy offers relief from punishment; grace offers pardon for the crime.
4) Mercy & Justice
B. The Source of Mercy.
1. Pure Mercy is a Gift of God – Psalm 62:12
a) It is not a Natural Attribute of Man but is a Gift that Comes with the New Birth.
1) For Us To Show Mercy it Takes a Special Work of the Holy Spirit In Our Lives.
(a) God must plant this aspect of His nature within us; it is a gift.
1. We must experience God’s Mercy to be merciful in its full sense
2. Mercy is only for those who through grace and divine power have met the requirements of the first four beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-6)
a. (v.3 humility) – bowing humbly before God in poverty of spirit,
b. (v.4 repentance) – mourning over and turning from your sin,
c. (v.5 surrender) – meekness and submissiveness to God’s control, and
d. (v.6 holiness) – hungering and thirsting above all else for His righteousness. The way of mercy is the way of humility, repentance, surrender, and holiness.
3. For us to show mercy takes a special work of the Holy Spirit in our lives & therefore, it is properly listed as a gift.
2. When Mercy Is & When It Is Not.
a) Some Have the Gift & Others Don’t.
1) Those Who Do – They Show Mercy With Cheerfulness.
(a) They give offenders a second, third & fourth chance with cheerfulness.
(b) When you really feel like you’ve blown it & they lift you up & out of your despair.
(c) Their attitude matches their heart.
2) Those Who Don’t – They Have A Lack of Cheerfulness.
(a) When some people show “mercy” they grow real somber (sad):
1. Even as they forgive you, they’re thinking, I wish I could pound you right now for what you did, but God tells me I have to show mercy. But I don’t ever think I’ll ever recover from this.
2. They try to make you feel guilty & remorseful, to make you realize how seriously you’ve offended them.
a. Usually you can tell they’re not really being merciful. Their lack of cheerfulness lets you know they’re still burning over whatever wrong had been done to them.
b. It is possible to show mercy because God commands it without really having mercy in your heart, yet that is where God wants it, in your heart.
c. The Spirit wants the attitude of our hearts to match our actions.
3. When Job was suffering through his trials, his friends came to comfort him—but ended up accusing him. One said he was a hypocrite the other a liar.
C. The Practice of Mercy.
1. The Most Obvious Way is through Physical Acts.
a) In Serving Others in Need, We Demonstrate A Heart Of Mercy.
1) Whether We Have the Gift or not, it’s not an Option; it’s a Command.
(a) Luke 6:36 as a child of God, we are to be merciful just as our Father in heaven
(b) Matthew 25:41-45.
(c) Micah 6:8 “show mercy & compassion everyone to his own brother.”
We forget that in failing to show mercy to others, we are setting the standard by which God will one day judge us, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13 NKJV)
(d) When you stand before God, you’ll receive the same kind of mercy you’ve showed to others.
(e) If you haven’t shown mercy, then He will judge you without mercy. Do you want to face that? Not me!!
2) God Has Always Intended for Mercy to Characterize His People (Deuteronomy 15:7-9)
(a) The true character of mercy is in giving:
1. Giving compassion, giving help, giving time, giving forgiveness, giving money, giving ourselves.
2. The children of the King are merciful. Those who are merciless face judgment; but “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13b).
2. Mercy and Forgiveness – Us Forgiving Others (Matt.6:12, 14-15)
a) Several Reasons’s Why We Are To Forgive Others.
1) Christians Are Characterized By Those Who Forgive (Matthew 5:44-45)
2) It Follows the Example of Christ (1John 2:6; Ephesians 4:32; Luke 23:34)
3) It Expresses the Highest Virtue (quality) of Man (Proverbs 19:11)
4) It Frees the Conscience From Guilt (Psalm 32:1-5)
(a) A root of bitterness grows binding the conscience (Heb.12:14-15)
(b) This will give Satan a foothold making matters worse (2 Corinthians 2:10-11; Eph.4:26-27)
5) It Delivers Us From Chastening (Hebrews 12:5-6)
(a) Wherever there is unforgiveness there is sin, & where there is sin there is chastening
6) If We don’t forgive we don’t get forgiven either (Matthew 5:14-15)
(a) The Prerequisite of Forgiveness – Before we come to the Lord & say, “Lord, cleanse me again & use me” (John 13) we’ve got to be sure we’ve forgiven others.
1. I go to church, read the Bible, listen to tapes, I miss out on being used by God, etc… but I seem to be lacking joy in my walk.
2. I’m confessing my sins to the Lord, & I still don’t have the joy, what’s wrong?
3. Maybe all that confession is not cutting it, because the Lord isn’t giving you release from those sins because you’ve still got something cooking in your heart against someone else.
a. You have short-circuited your own spiritual welfare.
b. The joy is gone, the intimacy disappears & the usefulness
b) Three Steps To Dealing With Grudges Against Somebody Else.
1) Take It To God As A Sin – Confess it to Him.
2) Go To the Person – Confess it to him or her.
3) Give the Person Something You Value Very Highly
Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21 NKJV)
c) Instruction About Forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35)
A Merciful God.
3. Mercy Is A Divine Quality.
a) Mercy is the Very Character & Nature of God.
1) Luke 1:58; Titus 3:4-7; Mark 10:46-52
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, (Ephesians 2:4 NKJV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3 NKJV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, (2 Corinthians 1:3 NKJV)
To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. (Daniel 9:9 NKJV)
Through the LORD'S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. (Lamentations 3:22 NKJV)
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. (Psalms 116:5 NKJV)
The LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation.' (Numbers 14:18 NKJV)
(for the LORD your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them. (Deuteronomy 4:31 NKJV)
Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; For You are God, gracious and merciful. (Nehemiah 9:31 NKJV)
2) Mercy develops from an attitude of compassion, from reaching out to help someone in need, and is characterized by kindness and tenderness.
(a) The First Mention of Mercy in Scripture (Genesis 19:12-18)
1. Lot realized he could have easily been one of the victims destroyed.
2. He recognized it was only the mercy of God that separated him from those who perished (Romans 9:15; Exodus 33:19).
3. As we look at our own lives and see what God has done for us, we realize we don’t deserve His mercies either, this should cause us to serve Him (2Cor.5:14).
(b) God Delights in Mercy (Jer.9:24)
1. The Bible says, “His mercy endures forever” (Paslm.100:5)
2. Many Christians think God is mad & angry at them, but listen to what God said to Moses
Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, "keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:5-7 NKJV)