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By Frank Chesser

religion, articles, christianity

Mercy inheres in God's way. God wants people who "love mercy" (Micah 6:8). Mercy begets mercy (Matt. 5:7). Mercy is one of the "weightier (heavier) matters of the law" (Matt. 23:28). The unmerciful will face a merciless God in judgment (James 2:13).

A proper view of self and sin is essential soil for the seed of mercy. The high priest's recognition of himself as being "compassed with infirmity" enabled him to have "compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way" (Heb. 5:2).

Blindness with regard to one's own faults fuels the censorious spirit. A mote-hunter is judge, jury, and hangman. He dons the judicial robe and runs roughshod over mercy. Eagle-eyed relative to his neighbor's flaws, he is oblivious to his own. Nothing promotes humility and mercy more than a reflective look at self.

Self-righteousness is an insurmountable barrier to the merciful spirit. Thus, the Pharisee viewed self with pride, mercy with indifference, and the publican with contempt (Luke 18:9-12). Feeling no need of mercy, the elder son arrogantly averred, "Neither transgressed I at anytime thy commandment" (Luke 15:29). Conversely, a clear picture of self impelled the publican to exclaim, "God be merciful unto me a sinner" (Luke 18:13).

Robed in Phariseeism, Paul drove merciless rivets of destruction into the church. Void of mercy and filled with madness (Acts 26:11), he severed parents from their children (Acts 8:3), embraced the synagogues with whips and chains (Acts 22:19), and painted the doorpost of the church with the blood of saints (Acts 22:4). However, a confrontation with Jesus, self, and sin drove Paul to his knees and flooded his soul with mercy and compassion for a world in ruin (Acts 9).

David took Uriah's wife and life. Yet destitute of mercy, he hesitated not to judge and sentence a man to death for taking the life of a neighbor's lamb. David's accusation, "He had no pity" (2 Sam. 12:6), was self-condemning. Only by seeing himself and his sin was he able to reclaim the spirit of mercy. Even so, mercy will elude me until I realize that, I, too, "am the man" (2 Sam. 12:7).

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Published November 1995