|Mercy is an attitude of kindness and forgiveness shown where none is expected. Certainly we have no grounds to expect God’s mercy. Sin in us is so repulsive to God that it draws a line of separation between us and God that cannot be crossed. Yet God shows mercy to us through His Son Jesus Christ.
The Bible describes God as a God of Mercy: “For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath” (Deuteronomy 4:31 NIV). Again, “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” (Ephesians 2:4,5a NIV). The same truth is echoed in 1 Peter 1:3 where it says, “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope” (NIV). Yes, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:11b NIV).
God’s Word encourages us to approach God so that we may receive mercy: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). This receiving of mercy is real, for the Bible says: “Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10b NIV).
This mercy is promised to those who fear God: “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50 NIV).
Instead of concealing our sins, if we confess and forsake them the Bible promises that we will find mercy from God (Proverbs 28:13). It also exhorts the wicked man to forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Then if he turns to the Lord, God will pardon him and will have mercy on him (Isaiah 55:7).
Many times when we pray, we think that we have a right to pray because of our faith or our right living with God. More than that we have to recognize that our motivation to pray should come from an understanding of God’s mercy (Daniel 9:18b). We can approach God in times of desperate need not because we are righteous but only because of His great mercy: “Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need” (Pslam 79:8 NIV).
David understood this truth in many dimensions. After David realized that he had sinned; he prayed: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love” (Psalm 51:1a NIV). He understood that He could draw near to God in His place of worship only because of God’s mercy: “But I, by your great mercy will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple” (Psalm 5:7 NIV). Again he said, “Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place” (Psalm 28:2 NIV).
He reminds God to remember His mercy which they had known from the beginning (Psalm 25:6). He asks God to have mercy on him and lift him up from the gates of death (Psalm 9:13). He also pleads with God not to withhold His mercy from him (Psalm 40:11). He asks God to have mercy on him because he had taken refuge in Him (Psalm 57:1).
And David was also confident that God would hear him because of His mercy: “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer” (Psalm 6:8 NIV). The Psalmist also express this thought elsewhere: “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy” (Psalm 116:1 NIV).
But what happens when God is angry? We find that even when God is angry He is merciful. Habbakuk prayed: “In wrath remember mercy” (3:2). Micah praises God by praying: “You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18b,19 NIV).
There are two things we are to do in view of God’s mercy. One is look with longing and wait for God to show his mercy; and not take our eyes off Him till He shows us His mercy (Psalm 123:2,3). Another thing is to offer our bodies to Him as living sacrifices–to live in a holy way pleasing to God. We are urged to do this because God has been merciful to us.
Let us do so. Because God has kept us alive and has not put an end to us when we sinned: “But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God” (Nehemiah 9:31 NIV). Such is the great mercy of our God!
Therefore let us continue to hold on to God’s mercy even when all hopes seems lost and darkness threatens. Surely the mercy of God shall meet us with comfort and consolations.