mercy is a way of saying “thank you” to God.
WORKS OF MERCY
Jesus taught men to be merciful. This was not new, however, in Jesus’ day, because even in the days of Moses positive mercy toward an enemy was commanded: “Should you come upon your enemy’s bull or his ass going astray, you are to return it without fail to him. Should you see the ass of someone who hates you lying down under its load, then you must refrain from leaving him. With him you are without fail to get it loose.” (Ex. 23:4, 5) By thus calling attention to the matter of treating enemies with kindness when they are in distress, Jehovah was teaching man the need to be merciful to all under every circumstance. For surely if we are merciful to enemies, then how much more so will we be inclined to be merciful to friends, neighbors and those dear to us!—Rom. 12:17-21; Mic. 6:8.
Life is filled with opportunities to show mercy. A son breaks one of his father’s tools, but asks to be forgiven. The father shows mercy. A judge is moved by the tears of a weeping mother and suspends her sentence. A husband mistreats his wife and the wife her husband in moments of weakness. There is regret, then forgiveness and mercy. So many mistakes in life can be covered over by the quality of mercy.
Yet mercy has respect for authority, law and the glory of God. It seeks good, but it does not overlook laziness or ignore willful failures. There is no mercy in allowing a bad man to go on in badness. Mercy is not negligence.
True mercy considers more than one’s physical circumstances; it gives attention to one’s spiritual welfare. Jesus said: “It is the spirit that is life-giving; the flesh is of no use at all. The sayings that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63) So to instruct one’s fellowman in the sayings of Christ and his Kingdom good news, to strengthen the doubtful with his Word of truth, to comfort the sorrowful with his assurances of a resurrection and of life in the new world, are acts of mercy that are even greater than caring for the needs of the flesh.
Although you may not always be in position to perform deeds of mercy, it should not be forgotten that merciful words have power. “The calmness of the tongue is a tree of life.” (Prov. 15:4) When the Russian poet and reformer told a beggar: “Do not be angry with me, friend; I have nothing with me to give you!” the beggar replied: “You have already given me more than I deserve. You called me friend—that was a great gift.”
In addition, we ought to be merciful in our thoughts concerning others. Kind actions coupled with unkind thoughts are hypocrisy. They are counterfeits that bless no one. On the other hand, kind thoughts coupled with fine works bless all involved. Thinking and doing good are among the purest delights in the world. As Jesus said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
Persons who forgive nothing—what mercy will be theirs? But God assures the one who shows mercy that mercy will be shown to him. What cause for happiness he has!
“Please Say Shibboleth”
◆ “Sibboleth” for “Shibboleth” may not now seem consequential, but at the fords of the Jordan it meant the difference of life and death. Right religion may not seem important to you now, but at Armageddon it will mean your life.—Judg. 12:5, 6.