Mercy is a quality of God, the act of showing love and compassion, not administering justice when it is deserved. One of many examples throughout the Bible, Jesus shared the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. In (Luke 18:9-13) “And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’”
In the above parable, Jesus is comparing two men who went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee’s in general thought works alone could get them favor and merit with God. They were the largest and most influential religious party during New Testament time and separated themselves to the study of the law. They were viewed as the religious leaders of the Jews and many tended to display a prideful, haughty, self-righteous attitude as is easily noted in the verses above. On the other hand, the tax collectors were usually Roman citizens who worked for the government. They were hated by the people because of their dishonesty in collecting more than the tax owed the government by adding an excessive profit for themselves to the taxes people paid. In the parable above, the tax collector recognized his sin, his unworthiness, and had a much more accurate vision of himself. He knew he was unworthy and deserved punishment for his sins.
Our God is so righteous and holy that He requires a propitiation, something to reconcile us to Him, a sacrifice. In place of the wrath we deserve, He gives us mercy, or grace –his unmerited favor. Jesus, God’s own son’s death on the cross was the sacrifice, payment, or propitiation for all of mankind, both you and me. What great mercy and love was displayed at the cross!
The verses in this song from Selah says it all best.
‘Wonderful merciful Savior, precious Redeemer and friend,
Who would have thought that a Lamb could rescue the souls of men.’
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth. Psalm 86:15
What must I do to gain His mercy and grace?
- Recognize my sinful desires and actions. Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23
- Confess those sins to our Heavenly Father. Romans 10:9
- Ask forgiveness, receive His gift of forgiveness through faith, repent of those sins, and change the direction in which we are heading. John 1:12
Thank you heavenly Father for your love and mercy, who saved a sinner such as me from the punishment I honestly deserve.
About the writer:
Beverly has been an educator, administrator, educational sales representative, Sunday school teacher, and mentor; but most importantly is a wife, mother, and grandmother with a passion for sharing Christ with others.