A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son.
The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death.
“But I don’t ask for justice,” the mother explained. “I plead for mercy!”
“But your son does not deserve mercy,” Napoleon replied.
“Sir,” the woman cried, “it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for.”
“Well, then,” the emperor said, “I will have mercy.” And he spared the woman’s son. (Luis Palau, “Experiencing God’s Forgiveness, Multnomah Press, 1984).
What a great explanation of mercy. The very word means that we don’t deserve it. We cannot take it from someone, we can only wait to see if it is offered.
Our world often forgets about mercy. It looks for justice, judgment and punishment. And if someone has done the wrong thing, no one questions if those things are dished out.
Just go for a drive in the car. There you will see an absence of mercy! I know even I am guilty of leaving mercy at home when I get behind the wheel. If someone cuts me off or changes lanes without indicating or doesn’t allow me to merge… they may not be able to hear me from their car but my waving arms and facial expressions leave nothing to the imagination.
Fortunately for each of us, God has a different way of living. Instead of giving judgment, He offers mercy. Instead of us paying the appropriate punishment, He offers mercy.
Jesus shows us the ultimate act of mercy when He took on himself all the judgment and all the punishment for our sins. Ephesians 2:4-5 says it perfectly: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
If we want to live like Jesus and uphold Christian values then mercy is our first action to look into. Mercy can be difficult and dirty and feel like the opposite to what we really want to do. When someone has wronged us we lean much more towards judgment and punishment.
But the great thing is God doesn’t ask you to do for others that which He hasn’t already done for you. Let me say that again: God doesn’t ask you to do for others that which He hasn’t already done for you.
Lord, help me to be more merciful to others today. It does not come naturally and often I want justice rather than to offer mercy. Help me to be more like You today. Amen.
Who can you offer mercy to today?
This article was written by Linda Bailey
Linda started theological studies in 1999 in Australia. After working for ten years in various church ministries, she now works as the breakfast producer at 89.9 LightFM - the Christian radio station in Melbourne, Australia. She writes blogs every day about passages she is currently reading in the Bible. Follow her on Google Plus +Linda Bailey or Facebook by clicking the like button on the right of this page.