I read some disturbing information recently. The Barna Group, a Christian research firm, found that we as Christians are struggling with giving and receiving mercy. They found that 25% of Christians have someone in their life that they say they cannot and will not forgive. Also, they found that many of us are grappling with whether certain people deserve compassion or forgiveness. The study found that we are no different in embodying merciful attitudes and actions than non-Christians. If you don’t know, mercy and forgiveness are central to our faith.
Mercy is simply having compassion and showing kindness to someone in need. When Jesus looked at the crowds, He had compassion on them. When someone needed Jesus’ help, they would cry out, “Jesus, have mercy on me!” As you and I have received God’s mercy and forgiveness, we are to give it. They should be a part of the DNA of our new life in Christ. It’s our love that we should be known for, but right now, there is no discernible difference between us and the world. We need to individually ask God to let His mercy, kindness and forgiveness to flow through us. We carry His name. Let’s also carry His attributes.
Here are some Bible verses on how we are to be merciful.
1. Show mercy and compassion for others, just as your heavenly Father overflows with mercy and compassion for all.
Luke 6:36 TPT
2. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; but [to the one who has shown mercy] mercy triumphs [victoriously] over judgment.
JAMES 2:13 AMP
3. How satisfied you are when you demonstrate tender mercy! For tender mercy will be demonstrated to you.
Matthew 5:7 TPT
4. Mercy to the needy is a loan to GOD, and GOD pays back those loans in full.
Proverbs 19:17 MSG
5. Show mercy toward those who have doubts; save others by snatching them out of the fire; and to others show mercy mixed with fear, but hate their very clothes, stained by their sinful lusts.
Jude 1:22-23 GNT
If you’d like to read more about Barca’s study on mercy, click here.
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Have you ever done something wrong and then tried to cover it up? Of course you have. You’re human. There’s something inside of us that think if we cover it up, no one will know and it will go away. I’ve been trying it since I was a kid. In fact, my friends and I once started a fire when we were young. When it started smoking a lot, we tried to cover it up…with dried up pine needles. The fire roared even bigger. Instead of asking an adult for help, we went to my friend’s brother who was only two years older. By the time he realized he couldn’t put it out either, a neighbor saw the blaze and called the fire department who came and prevented a huge forest fire. By then, there was still significant damage we could have avoided had we confessed sooner.
I’ve found that people are more willing to forgive your shortcomings when you’re open and honest about them. But there’s this voice in our heads that creates doubts and insecurities in us. It tells us, “If they knew this about you, they would never talk to you.” When we listen to that voice, we choose to cover up our sins, failures and shortcomings which compounds the problem. We know it doesn’t work, but we try anyway thinking we might get away with it this time. The temptation to cover things up is such a challenge that it’s often more tempting than the temptation to sin. The problem is that sin covered up is unconfessed sin.
Proverbs 28:13 says, “If you cover up your sin you’ll never do well. But if you confess your sins and forsake them, you will be kissed by mercy” (TPT). We confess our sins to God for forgiveness. We confess them to others for healing. We need to get better at showing people mercy for their confessed sins. That’s the only way to break this cycle of covering up sins. We all sin, and we all need mercy and grace from each other. Jesus said it was the merciful who will obtain mercy. Let mercy start with you today.
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When I was younger I did a lot more things that were unwise. In one particular instance, my friend and I decided to build a campfire in the woods. It wasn’t long before it was bigger than we could handle. We didn’t want to tell our parents what we had done so we avoided them and tried to get help from my friend’s brother. The water hose wouldn’t reach and we eventually had to tell my friend’s mom who called the fire department. That night, I felt bad and was afraid of my dad finding out. Because of my guilty conscience, I avoided being around him. I don’t even remember what he did when he found out. I just remember trying to not cross paths with him because of what i had done.
That same guilty conscience has a way of showing up in my spiritual life too. When I sin or mess up, i act like Adam and Eve. I try to hide from God. I avoid my prayer time because I’m embarrassed. Even though I’ve asked for forgiveness, there’s a period of time where I allow my shame to keep myself out of His presence. I know I’m not the only one who does this. We all do to some extent. We somehow think our failures and sins disqualify us from being children of God, even after we’ve repented. Even though God has forgiven them and forgotten them, somehow we can’t.
I find hope in 1 John 3:20. It says, “Whenever our hearts make us feel guilty and remind us of our failures, we know that God is much greater and more merciful than our conscience, and he knows everything there is to know about us” (TPT). God knows everything about us including our thoughts…and He still loves us and calls us His children. If you struggle with this like i do, it’s time to forgive yourself because God already has. You are still His child and worthy of being in His presence. Don’t diminish the work Jesus did on the cross by thinking your sin is somehow stronger than the blood He shed. It’s time to Forgive yourself. God isn’t looking for perfection from you. He understands your human condition and loves you no matter what you’ve done. Find your freedom today and get back in His presence.
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