Biblically Mandated Mercy

The Need for Mercy
sinMan’s pain and man’s suffering originates from man’s sin. Everything God made was good (Gen 1:31). The first man was tempted and sinned in a perfectly voluntary act. The contagion of sin spread throughout man and left no part of our being untouched. Man became utterly corrupt (Gen 6:5, Rom 7:18). Paul tells us that by one man death entered the world and passed on to all men (Rom 5:12). Sin causes man to turn against God and to turn against each other. With the addition of sin in our existence we have pain, sickness, death, suffering, poverty, racism, injustice, corruption, theft, starvation and other means of creating distance between us and our Creator.

The need for God’s grace, mercy, and justice in the world are a direct result of the fall of man. Now, as a result, we are all needy recipients of the blessings provided by the Lord. The birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were mandated by the sin of man. Through Christ alone is our sinful heart reconciled to God.

Dispensing Mercy
face1It is our sin that created a need for the mercy of Christ. It is also our hands which are called upon to disseminate God’s love. Scripture commands disciples of Christ to show his mercy and justice to each other and to the lost. We are vessels for which his good work is poured out on others (2Tim 2:21). When we serve the poor, the widows and the orphans in Christ’s name, they receive mercy, Christ receives glory and we comprehend justice. When we were poor, lost and destitute the Lord shared his mercy with us so we could share his mercy with the poor, lost and impoverished. Tim Keller said, “Because Jesus served you in such a radical way, you have a joyful need to serve.”

Christ’s disciples are called to dispense God’s mercy and justice, not so we can be observed or glorified, but so that our Father can be glorified. Any action of mercy that elevates us as the provider is sinful. The dispenser of grace must always be seen as Christ. Those suffering must never see us as anything other than a willing vessel. The disciples of Christ are called to give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, welcome strangers, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned (Mat 25:31-40). Those who do not do these things will be eternally punished (Mat 25:41-46). Serving the needy provides evidence we as disciples of Christ and have a truly altered heart. The love of Christ in our hearts compels us to show mercy to others, as we too have been shown mercy.

Scripture Screams Mercy
the callThe term “mercy” (or merciful) appears over 200 times in the ESV. Of course a majority of the mercy in Scripture refers to God’s great mercy toward man. However, many occurrences of mercy relate to the actions we, as disciples of Christ, are to show to others so God can receive glory. The word “mercy” appears in Scripture (in all its Greek and Hebrew forms) more often than the words grace, justice, tithe, Sabbath, pray, church, baptism, and preach. Indeed mercy has great significance to our Lord. David Platt reminds us, “The bible informs us, compels us to care for the poor, to love the outcast, to serve the needy.”

Our thankfulness for the mercy God creates a strange conflict in our heart. We naturally desire to serve and comfort ourselves, but our new heart screams for us to show mercy to others. We feel a strange urge to show our love for Christ by showing his love to others. Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Charles Spurgeon wrote of this verse, “The prophet does not say, ‘to do mercy,’ but to ‘love’ it, to take a delight in it, to find great pleasure in the forgiveness of injuries, in the helping of the poor, in the cheering of the sick, in the teaching of the ignorant, in the winning back of sinners to the ways of God.”

annieJames teaches that our faith is not real if it only results in wisdom and a warm heart and not in deeds of service. James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” R.C. Sproul says of this verse that widows and orphans, “are not to be neglected, but are to be honored, respected and helped whenever help is needed.”

Mercy Me
Pray the God of Mercy will give you opportunities to provide justice to the oppressed and grace for the broken. Serving others isn’t imparting our views, imposing our will or forcing our culture on others. It is sharing the joy and mercy of a perfect love. Answering God’s command to share his mercy and love with the poor is a pleasure too few enjoy and too many disregard. Augustine implored us, “So give to the poor; I’m begging you, I’m warning you, I’m commanding you, I’m ordering you.”