God requires mercy
‘He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ (Micah 6:8)
– Mercy: compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone who doesn’t deserve it.
Faced with God’s justice, we’re condemned already but then God’s immeasurable compassion steps in and, with immense grace, He offers the precious, priceless gift of mercy.
Who doesn’t want to receive mercy? How frequently and how much we need it! And yet how hard it is to forgive those who’ve hurt, distressed and disappointed us. It can be challenging enough when someone asks for forgiveness and even more so when they don’t.
Being merciful brings its own reward. When we show mercy, we’re actually acknowledging God’s mercy towards us. ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’ (Matthew 5:7)
However, there’s a cost involved in withholding mercy. The Lord’s prayer, which serves as a teaching model, includes asking God to ‘forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.’ He goes on to make it very plain that if we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven. ‘For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.’ (Matthew 6:14-15)
I sometimes wonder if this clear and uncompromising ‘cause and effect’ statement is in place because to forgive isn’t a human trait and I’m grateful beyond words that mercy, compassion and forgiveness exemplify God. ‘Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.’ (Luke 6:36)
This verse shows us that God requires us not just to show mercy but also to love it. Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, this challenge, which we have to perform time and again throughout our lives, would be impossible.