Mercy: “Eleeo” - to be compassionate by word or deed, by divine grace. To help one afflicted or seeking aid. To bring help to the wretched.
Christ followers have been given the gift of abundant grace. In our daily lives we tend to forget how deep the pit was from which we were raised. In Christ we were raised from death to life. We no longer must be held accountable for the debt of our sins. Every sin is forgiven. Every. Single. One. I can’t even count the number of my sins, let alone begin to pay retribution for them.
Even more than the abundance of forgiveness, we also receive our daily bread from our Father in heaven. The miracles of our provision are so plentiful that we usually take them for granted. The sun rises and sets each day so predictably that we forget it was God who set the galaxy into orbit. However, the Lord blesses us with plenty so that we may give out of our abundance, not hoard it; as if He will somehow fail to provide again tomorrow.
Perhaps compassion is simply choosing to forgive someone’s debt when they cannot pay it. Let’s say you drive to the gas station. You pull in, fill your tank, and notice the person at the pump next to you fumbling for their wallet. They search for a few minutes, then hang their head. They have no money to buy the gas. Without fanfare, you simply go over to the pump, swipe your card, and fill up their tank.
“Thank you, but I can’t pay you back,” they may say.
Compassion answers with, “There is no need to repay me. Your debt is forgiven.”
Let’s take a look at what Matthew 18:23-34 (ESV) has to say about mercy. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. SInce he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt, and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.”
Christ followers would do well to remember how much debt was canceled in our own lives, and what a great amount of mercy that entailed. Remember the great love and mercy God showed in sending Jesus to die in our place for sins He never committed. I pray this reality rests continually in our conscious minds, training our eyes to see every single person we encounter as someone of great value to God. As another verse puts it, “And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of one of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40, ESV) May the mercy we show to others be the gift we give to the Lord Himself.