“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7)
When you read the above, what comes to mind? Perhaps something along the lines of we need to be willing to forgive others if we want God to forgive us? While that is a true statement, showing mercy is more than just not holding a grudge when someone hurts our feelings.
Envision yourself in a position where it’s within your power to hurt or punish someone in some way. The person is totally deserving of this treatment. You’re completely within your rights to take this action. Others aware of the situation would expect you to do it.
Yet, you decide not to do it. Why? Because you realize it would be wrong to do it? No, that’s not the reason. You simply decide to not take this justified action out of compassion for the other person. In spite of whatever they have done, you just don’t want to hurt them. That’s being merciful.
The greatest example of mercy is God’s mercy toward us. As imperfect sinners, what we are deserving of is eternal separation from God. Yet, instead of allowing mankind to reap eternal torment, God sent His Son (an event we commemorate this week) and let Him pay the penalty for us. This action of a compassionate God allowed Him to “appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also” (Alma 42:15).
“O the greatness of the mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel! For he delivereth his saints from that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.” (2 Nephi 9:19)
When we consider how merciful God has been to us, how can we not try to follow His example?
As other scriptures say, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36) and “he that hath shewed no mercy shall have judgment without mercy” (James 2:13).
Hopefully, we don’t often find ourselves in a position where we have the power to hurt or punish someone such that we need to consider showing this type of mercy to them. However, there is another type of mercy described in the scriptures that can be part of our lives on a daily basis. This type of mercy can be described as helping those who can’t help themselves.
When Jesus healed the sick, He was doing something for them that they couldn’t do for themselves. It wasn’t something He was required to do — His primary purpose on earth was to show the way of salvation — but He had the power to do it, and He had compassion for the people, so He often paused His ministry to heal the sick.
Mark 10:47, Matthew 15:22 and Matthew 17:15 give examples of people with various illnesses crying out to Jesus, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” When Jesus was with the Nephites in America, He called for their sick to be brought forth to be healed, saying “Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy” (3 Nephi 17:7).
Now, although the power to heal in the name of Jesus still exists today (per many testimonies that we hear), the average believer can’t just walk down the street as Jesus did, demonstrating mercy to people by healing them on demand. However, each of us does have the power to be an “angel of mercy,” helping people who are in need.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), a man is lying half dead in the street. Everybody walks past him except one Samaritan who, “when he saw him, he had compassion on him” and “brought him to an inn, and took care of him” (verses 33-34).
When Jesus asked who in the story was the good neighbor, the answer was “He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus, Go, and do thou likewise” (verse 37).
We regularly encounter people who are in desperate need of some type of help — a type of help that is within our power to offer. Although it may be correct in a given case to say it’s not our responsibility to get involved with helping a specific individual, it may also be the case that God is calling on us to be merciful and show compassion to someone who is otherwise helpless. When we do this, we are blessed ourselves, even as we are a blessing to someone else.
Give as ‘twas given to you in your need, Love as the Master loved you; Be to the helpless a helper indeed, Unto your mission be true. Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing, Out of my life, may Jesus shine. Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray. Make me a blessing to someone today.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.