Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What is Mercy?

Definitions of mercy on the Web:

  • clemency: leniency and compassion shown toward offenders by a person or agency charged with administering justice; "he threw himself on the mercy of the court"
  • mercifulness: a disposition to be kind and forgiving; "in those days a wife had to depend on the mercifulness of her husband"
  • Mercy is a term used to describe the leniency or compassion shown by one person to another, or a request from one person to another to be shown such leniency or compassion. One of the basic virtues of chivalry and Christian ethics, it is also related to concepts of justice and morality in behaviour between people.
  • Mercy is the act of not administering justice when that justice is punitive. Because of our sinfulness we deserve death and eternal separation from God (Rom. 6:23; Isaiah 59:2), but God provided an atonement for sin and through it shows us mercy. That is, He does not deliver to the Christian the natural consequence of his sin which is damnation. That is why Jesus became sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21) and bore the punishment due to us (Isaiah 5345). It was to deliver us from damnation. ...
  • Is withheld punishment for judgment, God's mercy provides the need for sinful man in Jesus sacrifice.
  • a virtue, is compassionate treatment, especially of those under one’s power, a disposition to be kind and forgiving. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." See "Grace."
  • An aspect of the royal prerogative, whereby a convicted person is pardoned or has the sentence cancelled or reduced.

  • Our Life Design bible study this week was about mercy...and a few of us thought that the way they presented "mercy" was not exactly correct. And so many of the questions that we were asked to answer were difficult, mostly because my mind couldn't really grasp the answer to this question: What is mercy? Where have I seen mercy in action recently?
    Here is a sermon of sorts, on the subject:

    Anyway, this of course, is one of those things that we can't fully understand. There is so much to mercy, and it is hard to grasp because why would a holy God choose to withhold the punishment that we most certainly deserve and continue to earn on a daily basis? And yet, instead, he gives us Christ. Grace. Forgiveness. Redemption.
    The best example that came to my mind (of a human showing mercy) was Elizabeth Elliot, whose husband was murdered by a tribe in South America. She went back and ministered to that tribe, sharing Christ's love and forgiveness.
    And for me, I thought...Mercy can best be shown by me as Less Judgement, More Compassion. A clean slate. So instead of escalating discipline and punishment for every time they commit an offense, instead of treating the kids like it's the tenth time, treating them like it's the first time. Instead of handing out labels or judgements, or even punishments (that person isn't worth my time, or they don't deserve that, etc), handing out compassion instead.
    All I know is that however I try to define mercy, we could all use a little more of it. And I should definitely be more thankful for it. And maybe I could even spend more time handing out compassion rather than complaining about my own circumstances.

    P.S. If you have a recent example of mercy, please feel free to share it, perhaps we will be inspired!!

    1 comment:

    Rebecca said...

    I think I like it. There have been way too many times that I've felt it saving my life from certain annihilation, and a few times when I've looked back to see how close to annihilation I've come because of ignoring it. Does that make sense? Mercy=Gooooood :)