Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36 NASB)
This little verse is jam-packed with truth and challenge. The word translated as "be" is "ginomai" and is also translated as "become" or "arise". Another translation is "to be made". We are to be merciful. If we aren't merciful by nature, which we aren't, we are to become merciful. That difficult task of transformation can only be done by The One who IS mercy, and it is available for the asking. In a nutshell, we can arise with mercy when we allow God to transform us.
So, what is mercy? Mercy is not giving us what we deserve. The penalty for our sin is death and eternal separation from God. Because of His great mercy, he does not give those with repentant hearts what we so clearly deserve.
The word in the original here is "oiktirmōn" and denotes a more intense kind of mercy, a "tender mercy". It can also be translated as "compassionate toward the ills of others". Just as God is compassionate toward our troubles and difficulties, even so we are to be compassionate toward others. Unceasingly compassionate.
That is where the trouble comes, at least for me. Because we are made in the image of God, we have the capacity for compassion. We can see someone with difficulties and our heart goes out to them. That's why we give (time and money) when there is a tragedy of some sort. The problem comes when the tragedy is not quickly remedied or when the one in trouble makes no progress. Our compassion begins to fatigue, and the assistance we so freely gave begins to diminish. When the difficulty is one that is self-made, our feelings of mercy abate all the quicker.
Don't get me wrong. Mercy is not enabling and it does not mean that there are no consequences. Mercy doesn't give us death and damnation when we deserve it. It does, however, give us consequences and conviction. Mercy's desire is always transformation.
How merciful are you? How merciful is the body of Christ?
Today, pray that we would willingly be transformed into those who demonstrate the mercy of God and that we will arise with mercy toward all those within our path, especially those we love.
Link for last night's post: