Mercy may be defined as compassion, or sympathy, relieving the weak and unfortunate. Its heart is the quality of compassion, or sympathy, which is its internal activity. Its external expression is the act of giving relief. Its objects are those who are weak, or who are unfortunate. There are some who feel deeply with others’ weakness and calamities, but do not do anything to relieve them. Then there are those who relieve the weak and unfortunate, but do not feel sympathy or pity for them. In both cases, there is only a partial mercy. Both the pertinent hearts’ feelings and hands’ actions combined must be present, if one is to be merciful.
Weakness and misfortune may be physical, mental, artistic, moral or religious. The degree of mercy to be exercised should be decreasingly varied in the following order of these forms of weakness and misfortune: religious, moral, mental, physical and artistic. Although religious weakness and misfortune is the worst of all forms of weakness and misfortune, in actual experience it is by most people practiced less than the other forms of mercy. More feel for physical weakness and misfortune than for those of any other kind. And usually compassion for physical weakness and misfortune is felt by most people before its other forms are felt.
Mistreatment Should Evoke Mercy
Another reason why we should exercise mercy is the mistreatment that people receive should elicit our mercy, compassion, relieving those who are mistreated. Satan is the chief mistreater of our race; for to secure and increase his dominion over mankind he has resorted to every device of wickedness to mistreat them. Herein he is fittingly typed by the Pharoah of the oppression, whose cruelties to the Israelites are a picture of the much greater injuries that Satan has inflicted upon the groaning creation.
Certainly man has been cruel and injurious to his fellows, as public history and private experience prove. In state, religion, family, business, labor and society we see countless evidences of man’s unkindness and cruelty to his fellows. All of these furnish us an ample sphere for the exercise of mercy, since they should stir up our sympathy, which should arouse us to seek to relieve the distress.
Mercy is one of the most beautiful graces of the consecrated. It is thrice blessed: for it blesses him that gives, him that receives and him that sees it exercised. It is one of the qualifications of all of the elect and the quasi-elect in this and in the future life. One who fails to exercise it now will not be admitted as one of the pre-Millennial seed into either the heavenly or earthly phase of the Kingdom. Our Lord has this virtue in a most eminent degree. How often we read of His having compassion on multitudes and individuals! He has given all an inspiring example of mercy for our imitation!
Importance of Loving Mercy
According to our text we are not only to possess mercy, but to love mercy, if we would come up to the fulness of mercy. We must have a good will for it. We must be thankful at the opportunity to exercise it. It must be a delight to us to be given the opportunity to practice it. We should enter into every chance to show it with cheerfulness and swiftness. It must give us joy and satisfaction to have the occasion to manifest it. So doing we will be like God and Christ in works of mercy on behalf of the weak and unfortunate; for They are very rich in the quality of mercy.
Many Scriptures exhort God’s people to be merciful. “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart” (Proverbs 3: 3). “The merciful man doeth good to his own soul” (Proverbs 11: 17). “Mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good” (Proverbs 14: 22). “Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother” (Zechariah 7: 9). “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5: 7). “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6: 36). “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous” (1 Peter 3: 8).