Mercy is seeing someone’s need, having empathy and compassion for that person, and taking action to meet their need. Sometimes we stop with the “seeing” and walk on by in our busy lives. Other times we go a step further and actually “feel” compassion for the person—maybe even pray for them—and then go on with our busy schedule. But true mercy takes action to meet the person’s need.
But you may say, “I can’t fully meet that person’s need. It is too big for me. I don’t have the resources for that.” And you may be right, it may be more than you can individually provide, but ask yourself, “What can I do? Could I make a difference in some way in this person’s life?” Remember the little boy with the two fish and five loaves of bread? He gave what he had and God blessed it, stretched it, and made it sufficient for the need.
In scripture, we are repeatedly admonished to show mercy. Micah 6:8 (NIV) tells us, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Again, in Proverbs 3:3-4 (KJV) we are instructed to “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind then about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”
In fact, in Matthew 25:34-40, 45 (NIV) we can see that Jesus takes our behavior toward others very personally. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’….”He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
May God bless each of us as we reach out in mercy to those around us!