As we look within we empty ourselves of spiritual pride, mourn for our sin, and offer our battles up to God in meekness, we then hunger and thirst for the Lord’s righteousness. Standing in the Lord’s righteousness, we become merciful. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt. 5:7)
A definition of mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm. This requires empathy and love for one another, as we are commanded: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
When we don’t show mercy to others, we are prideful and concerned only with ourselves. Being unmerciful harms not only others, but ourselves and our testimony: “The merciful man does himself good, but the cruel man does himself harm.” (Prov. 11:17) When we are unmerciful to others, we should not expect that the Lord will show us mercy: “because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13)
Jesus used the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matt. 18:21-35) to illustrate that when we are unmerciful, we will not receive mercy, a restatement of what He said earlier: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14-15)
We are told to “be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Mercy is a loving and forgiving proclivity toward others. As we are to be imitators of God, we are to walk in love (Eph. 5:1-2), which includes giving grace and mercy to others. As we are merciful to others, we pray our Heavenly Father will be merciful to us: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” (Matt. 6:12)
Because there’s no limit to God’s mercy—no sin too great to forgive, no debt too large to pardon—there should be no limit to ours. As John Piper says, “Our mercy to each other comes from God’s mercy to us.” Those who have experienced such great grace stand ready and willing to pardon others and are blessed for it.
A life marked by this kind of radical forgiveness reveals a heart that loves God and seeks to please Him. David said, “How blessed is he who considers the helpless; The Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble.” (Ps. 41:1) When we are merciful, we will have God’s mercy. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:16)