The spiritual gift of mercy isn’t just a spiritual gift for a select few as some may suppose. In fact, the spiritual gift of mercy is much deeper, and far-reaching, than an item on a spiritual gifts list.
Mercy as Listed
Mercy is one of seven spiritual gifts listed in the book of Romans. The list reads like this:
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully (Romans 12:6-8).
This list of gifts is identified as motivational gifts. These and all spiritual gifts are better referred to as gifts of the Spirit. This is because the Spirit of Grace is the origin and we are the privileged vessel.
What Is Mercy
The dictionary.com defines it like this:
1. Compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence.
2. The disposition to be compassionate or forbearing.
3. The discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.
4. An act of kindness, compassion, or favor.
The Bible defines it much the same but uses seven different words to convey the depth of its meaning.
Mercy Is a Big Deal
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, he modeled mercy repeatedly. He healed on the Sabbath, ate with sinners, and forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery who was thrown in front of him by the religious leaders.
Over and over Jesus marveled at the religious leaders’ lack of mercy. In Matthew 23:23, he delivers this rebuke to them,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”
After they complained of Jesus’ interaction with publicans and sinners Jesus adds this to his correction to them.
Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Matthew 9:13, NLT).
At the beginning of Jesus ministry is his infamous sermon on the mount that begins with the beatitudes. Mercy is one of the eight. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
As he continues his sermon, we find our great need for that mercy. Jesus teaches us that anger is like murder, to love our enemies, turn the other cheek, not to judge, and more. One verse reads: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
Humans are far from perfect making mercy a big deal.
Mercy in The Old Testament
Many people look at God in the Old Testament and see only judgment. This is far from the truth. Mercy is at the core of who God is because God is love.
King David was keenly aware of the mercy of God.
Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old (Psalm 25:6).
Jesus spoke to the religious leaders from the book of Hosea.
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings (Hosea 6:6).
The prophet Micah sums up what God wants and tells us to love mercy.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).
We also are reminded that God’s mercy is always available.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Mercy is not a New Testament idea.
God’s Gift of Mercy
The spiritual gift of mercy is something that God gives us and wants us to give to others. In Jesus’ sermon on the mount where he tells us to be perfect, Luke records it a bit differently: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
The Bible tells us that God is rich in mercy. This word rich means copious, and abounding!
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:5-6).
The richness of God’s mercy is truly a spiritual gift that brings us salvation.
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Danielle Bernock is an international, award-winning author, speaker, and coach who helps people embrace their value and heal their soul through the power of the love of God. She’s written Emerging With Wings, A Bird Named Payn (now available in audio), Love’s Manifesto and Because You Matter. A long time follower of Christ, Danielle lives with her husband in Michigan near her adult children and grandchildren. For more information or to connect with Danielle https://www.daniellebernock.com/