What does it mean that God is Merciful?
Everyone talks about God's mercy. But do we know what we're talking about?
So, what does it mean that God is merciful? God does not punish those who are worthy of punishment. Rather, instead, He blesses them (Psalm 86:15; 1 Kings 11:13; Psalm 106:45; Leviticus 16:14). We, sinful humans, are worthy of punishment every moment of every day. From the least of us to the greatest all men have earned only condemnation. Yet, He not only doesn't punish us, He blesses us. Ultimately, His mercy is eternally demonstrated in Christ Jesus and for those who are by faith in Christ (John 3:16; Romans 5:6-11; Isaiah 53:7-10).
Oh, how rich is the mercy of God. Let's look deeper!
Worthy of Condemnation
I'm sure that you are guilty of breaking your own standard of righteousness. You may not like liars. Yet, at one point in time or possibly many, you have lied. It is not our standard that is important. Neither is it our judgment that is important. It is God's.
Therefore you have no excuse, you foolish person, everyone of you who passes judgment; for in that matter in which you judge someone else, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, you foolishperson who passes judgment on those who practice such things, and yet does them as well, that you will escape the judgment of God? (Romans 2:1-3)
Our acts or works point directly to our condemnation. This Scripture comes on the heals of the declaration that all have seen the glory of God, and then exchanged it for created things (Romans 1:18-23). Because of this, God gave us over to do the things that ought not to be done!
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a depraved mind, to do those things that are not proper, people having been filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, and evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, andmalice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unfeeling, andunmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32)
I don't know about you, but I have been guilty of most all of these things, many times over. I have 6 children and I see it in them from very early on. These deeds are what we ourselves practice. What we judge and condemn in others and this is what proves our present condemnation.
God's Great Mercy
Mercy isn't just something to be received at a future date. It is present and received every day (Lamentations 3:22-23)! The truth is that we need God's mercy now. Even at this very moment. For even though you may be holier now than you've ever been, you still haven't lived a single moment where you have loved the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 23:37, Luke 10:27). Thus, at this moment you are in violation of the first and greatest commandment.
You need mercy! You need God's unmerited non-punishment. You need God's sustentation and providence for everything at every moment. And God delivers! Every day! God is not reluctantly merciful, but eager to give mercy. For God is,
not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)
God's long-suffering and patience is a part of mercy. His kindness that leads us to repentance is also a part of mercy. His mercy runs deeper than we sinful humans could ever realize. But one day when we see Him as He is. Oh, how the tears will flow. Because we will see how great our God truly is!
The Future Mercy
God's mercy is displayed most fully in Christ Jesus.
For you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. (1 Peter 2:10)
Because of what Christ Jesus did on the cross. Those who put their faith in Jesus are no longer condemned but given eternal life as the people of mercy. A people who deserved nothing, yet were given everything. Not because of anything we have ever done, or could ever do. But because of everything Jesus had done, is doing, and will do as the Son of God, the Son of Man, and the great and faithful High Priest. One day in glory, we will look out upon a sea of people all redeemed by the blood of Christ. Astounded by mercy of our God who didn't condemn us. But saved us. This is simply too wonderful to comprehend. Yet, we must dwell upon it nonetheless! (To discover more about God, see our page, Who is God?)