April 3, 2011
Spiritual Gifts Series
The Spiritual Gift of
Romans 12:8, Page 1775
“he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness,”
No matter what concept springs to mind when you hear the word mercy, be sure to keep an open mind when you read the New Testament. When we walk through the Scriptures about mercy together, we will watch Jesus display true mercy. He always sets the examples we must follow.
The Mercy of the Lord Jesus
Jesus likened mercy to compassion (Matthew 12:7, page 1520) and said the weightier provisions of the law include justice, mercy and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23, 1543). As we observe Jesus interact with people and use living examples of mercy in action, we can begin to discern a pattern of mercy that characterizes the spiritual gift of mercy.
The Cries for Mercy. On many occasions, Jesus heard the cry for mercy from the blind (Matthew 9:27, page 1515), demon-possessed (Matthew 15:22, page 1528; Matthew 20:30, page 1537; Mark 10:47, page 1579)), lunatics and ill (Matthew 17:15, page 1531). Jesus responded to the specific calls for mercy from Bartimaeus (Mark 10:47, page 1579), the Ten Lepers (Luke 17:13, page 1634), and Elizabeth the Barren (Luke 1:58, page 1596). God shows mercy even upon the disobedient (Romans 11:31, page 1175), and displays His mercy even upon Gentiles who become the people of God (1 Peter 2:10, page 1895). Jesus commanded all people to love their enemies, lend without expectation of repayment, and be sons of the Most High. For God Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. In this context, Jesus commanded us to be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:35-36, page 1608).
The person with the spiritual gift of mercy, by extrapolation from these passages, will respond to cries for mercy in the same way that Jesus responded. Jesus reached out to the demon possessed, the ill and the blind. He had the miraculous power to heal them, but He also had the compassionate mercy to reach out to each of them. The person with the spiritual gift of mercy reaches out with kindness and ministry of various sorts to feed the hungry, care for the ill, and help the forgiven to forgive others. Notice that Jesus emphasized that God loves the ungrateful (like the nine lepers, Luke 17:11-21, pages 1634-1635). The people exercising the gift of mercy will minister to people who will be ungrateful and continue in many cases to be evil.
Mercy and The Crowds. So often, people try to prevent the ministry of mercy. In the eyes of the crowd, those needing mercy the most (such as the blind) simply should not bother Jesus. You may recall that the crowd tried to persuade two blind men to be silent and stop crying out for mercy from the Lord Jesus. In contrast, Jesus stopped, and moved with compassion, touched their eyes and the regained their sight and followed Him (Matthew 20:29-34, page 1537).
Persons with the spiritual gift of mercy will always want to bring together blind people with the mercies of Jesus Christ. They will not be listening to the crowd trying to silence people crying out for mercy, but will make a strong effort to bring mercy from Jesus to the blind, lame, demon-possessed, and all the hurting people. Everyone matters to them, even those people insistently crying out for mercy, whom other saints seek to silence.
Mercy and The Good Samaritan. I am sure you have heard about the Good Samaritan. As we have seen recently, the Good Samaritan showed mercy, even though the person he helped, apparently a Jew, probably wanted nothing to do with Samaritans (see John 4:9, page 1659). Jesus also used the Good Samaritan story to illustrate mercy and what it means to be a neighbor. God commanded us to love our neighbor. Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan to a lawyer asking: “Who is my neighbor?” After Jesus told him the whole story, Jesus asked the lawyer: “Which of these three men [the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan] proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” The lawyer answered that the Samaritan was a neighbor because he showed mercy (“ἔλεος“) to him. Jesus told the lawyer to go and do likewise (Luke 10:30-37, page 1620).
People with the spiritual gift of mercy are always being a neighbor to people who have been robbed. They also show the mercy of kindness to people who would be their natural enemies (remember to love your enemies and show them the mercy of kindness). For people who have endured great suffering, God often sends people with the spiritual gift of mercy to minister to them.
Mercy and Debt Forgiveness. In these times of great financial distress in America, we frequently see people unable to meet their bills. They often turn to their creditors and seek relief from their lawful debts. They are looking for mercy. Jesus told the story of a wicked slave. The slave was not wicked for being in debt, but rather for not showing the mercy of forgiveness. The wicked slave had all of his debt forgiven by his creditor, but he would not forgive his debtors. His master said that he should have had mercy upon his debtors in the same way his creditor had mercy (“ἠλέησα“) upon him (Matthew 18: 33, page 1534). Jesus tied that example to each of us having the mercy of forgiveness for our brothers from our hearts (Matthew 18:35, page 1534).
Saints with the spiritual gift of mercy really understand people suffering from too much debt. They reach out to them, minister to them, and help them through difficult financial times. Jesus also uses people with the spiritual gift of mercy to encourage debtors to forgive their debtors in the same way they have been forgiven. If you have received the mercy of forgiveness, be sure to pass on that mercy to others. People with the spiritual gift of mercy enjoy reaching out to people who need debt forgiveness and also need to forgive the debts of others.
The Blessings of Mercy. The Bible also presents some distinct blessings connected to mercy. Consider James 2:13, page 1889: “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy (“λεος“) triumphs over (“κατακαυχᾶται“) judgment.” This concept that mercy triumphs over judgment should warm every heart forgiven by the Lord Jesus. In fact, God displayed His great mercy in causing us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3, page 1893). Indeed, the wisdom of God is full of mercy and good fruits, without hypocrisy (James 3:17, page 1891).
The person with the spiritual gift of mercy will always use that gift to cause mercy to triumph over judgment. While all believers find mercy at the throne of grace, the saint with the spiritual gift of mercy brings others with him to that throne, that they too may receive mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16, page 1873). The gift of mercy comes to bear upon those judged and condemned by sin. By God’s mercy, He not only saves us, but He also delivers us according to His great compassion from our earthly problems, weaknesses, and failures.
The Cheerful Use of The Spiritual
Gift of Mercy
Now, having seen how the gift of mercy operates according to the example of the Lord Jesus, we can appreciate that it must be used with cheerfulness. This word for “cheerfulness” (“ἱλαρότητι“) is used only here in the New Testament. Some scholars have pointed out that our English word hilarious comes from this same Greek word. In any event, the way to exercise the gift of mercy is with cheerfulness. The attitude expressed in the giving of mercy will come through loud and clear when done with a cheerful heart. So often that smile combined with the act of mercy ministers wonderfully the love of Jesus Christ to those struggling with life.
The spiritual gift of mercy should be exercised with cheerfulness. While those gifted with spiritual gift of mercy have special abilities from God, we all must show mercy. The objects of this mercy often cry out for relief from their problems. Some of those problems are psychological, while others may be spiritual or physical. Of course, a mixture of those dimensions are often present in any cry for mercy. We should also remember Jesus reminding us that “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7, page 1506).
So we learn more about the spiritual gift of mercy today.
● We learn that saints using the spiritual gift of mercy reach out to the downtrodden and suffering, and they consider everyone their neighbor. They have no human enemies when it comes to showing mercy.
● We learn that the spiritual gift of mercy must be exercised in cheerfulness.
● All saints have a duty to show mercy, and in so doing they will love their neighbors and show mercy to their enemies.
Application for Today
Today, I want to watch the ministry of mercy in action. I certainly have benefitted often from the mercy of God and my friends who minister to me. To whom will you show mercy with cheerfulness today?