MERCY…THE PRODUCT OF TRUE LOVE
We now approach the last three of the seven fundamental principles of Christianity. These are found in the seven beatitudes of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The first four principles got our earth man out of the way. Now God can fill us with the last three principles, which are actually characteristics of God Himself. Man is made in the image of God, spiritually. However, until we remove our concern for the earth man, and concentrate on the spiritual part of our nature, the characteristics of God are not fully present to bless and enrich our life.
Before addressing “mercy”, the first of these spiritual characteristics, I want you to be aware that each of them springs from love. Only one who truly loves can show genuine mercy to the downtrodden and aching one. I have said these are characteristics of love, and because God IS love, each is a part of His total personality.
The importance of mercy is greater than mere words can express. Our very existence depends on it. We are all sinners and not only do things which violate the divine principles of God, but often ignore Him and fail to offer the worship which the creature should be giving to the source of his life. Except for the infinite mercy of a loving God, we would be hopeless or even destroyed for our perfidy.
In addition to the above, God has not only mercifully continued to let us live and do well, He has made the ultimate sacrifice of coming to earth in the person of His Son, who is a part of Him, and suffering the pain and indignity heaped upon Him by men, and even subjecting His Son to the ignominious death on the Cross, to make a way for us to be forgiven, and to tell us of His love. Such mercy as that is indescribable. And yet men reject Him and enjoy life here on earth.
But the mercy of God ought to move men to respond in kind and to try to follow His desire that we love our neighbor as ourself. Mercy is a characteristic that is approved and appreciated by most of us, even if we do not show it ourselves. Most people are warmed and charmed by stories of those who have shown mercy to others in trouble. But we are still very selective of those to whom we are willing to show mercy. If they are not up to our selective standards, we ignore or actively snub their needs. Few people can show mercy to those they consider unworthy, by their standards. Isn’t is wonderful that God does not use that standard on us?
In order to show mercy, I must be sensitive to the feelings of others. I cannot expect them to feel as I do, or to react in the same way I would. I must see them in their world and be sensitive to their felt needs, even if I would not feel or act the same way under the circumstances. My job, as one who loves as my Father wants me to, is to ease the burden of those who cross my path, and make them feel better because they have met me and felt the hand of Christian mercy.
Don’t wait for some catastrophe… some accident or life-threatening situation to show mercy. Many people would respond to a tragedy at hand. However, there are many needy people that you pass on your daily road of life. Some that need a kind word, a pat on the back, or maybe just a smile. The one who loves the common man, with all his aches and pains and his unlovable personality, carries joy in his handbag and strews it along the way wherever he goes. This is the man whose love is shown by his little acts of mercy.