The Attributes of God: Mercy

Luke 6:35–36 (ESV)
35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

What do we mean when we say that God is merciful? I have often heard it said that mercy is the withholding of punishment that we deserve, while grace is the giving of favor that we do not deserve. While this may be a common understanding, it is not quite right. To say that God is merciful speaks of his compassion and pity on sinners who have no claim or right to such. God created us as his image bearers to bring glory to him. We have rebelled against our Creator, but he still has compassion for us. That is a reflection of God’s mercy.

When we read the gospels, we see the mercy of God on display in the life of Jesus. As Jesus interacts with the lost crowds, we see his compassion on full display:

“When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14, ESV)

We are all sinners, but God is merciful. He looks on our lives with compassion and pity and calls us to himself. We do not deserve it, but God still wants us for his very own.


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