“Whoisa God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.” Micah 7:18
Here in the South, we frequently use that word as an exclamation over some catastrophe, surprise, or shock. But as “The Princess Bride” movie character Inigo Montoya so famously said about the word “inconceivable”—”You keep using that word…I do not think it means what you think it means.”
“Mercy,” according to Dictionary.com, has several definitions that have nothing to do with shock or surprise:
- compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence
- the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.
- an act of kindness, compassion, or favor1
“Mercy” shows up 276 times in the New King James version—100 of those mentions are in the Psalms. It’s frequently used as an attribute of God in praise to Him.
What is it about mercy that makes it so important?
Well, we need it—desperately.
When God’s Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins and failures, we have two ways to view Him.
The first is as a righteous God of justice. Picture a judge in a black robe, towering over you from a high desk—menacing, full of wrath, pounding the gavel with a resounding “Guilty!” If you’ve ever been in court, you may have experienced this type of judge. (My husband and I had a similar experience—we were completely intimidated by an adoption judge in a Russian courtroom…praise God, she ruled favorably for us anyway).
The second view of God? It’s far different—as a gentle Father who loves us and forgives us.
Take a look at the One who spoke to the prophet Jeremiah:
“ThroughtheLord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning;great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
The Hebrew words used here describe God’s mercies as “kindness” (cheçed) and His compassion as “love” (râcham). He abounds in mercy.
How do we reconcile these two views of God? It’s a mystery. On one hand, He’s the omnipotent Judge, righteously angry at our sin and ready to throw the book at us. On the other, He is the prodigal’s Father who longs to run toward us and embrace us.
He resolves this dilemma through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, who stands in the docket for us. In Jesus’ sinless death on the cross, we receive God’s pardon. We are no longer guilty as charged but freed and released. Instead of the eternal punishment we deserve, Jesus opens the gates wide to heaven’s abundance and eternal life.
Mercy! What a surprising, shocking gift!
What’s even more amazing is that this same God delights in giving us mercy. He hates our offenses, yet pardoning us makes him happy. He does not begrudge us His compassion but offers it generously.
And when we understand how much God loves us and forgives us, we learn to delight in Him. His commandments become fountains of life for us, refreshing our souls and filling us with His goodness.
As we go into this season of thankfulness, we can identify lots of wonderful gifts from God—our families and friends, God’s provision for our daily needs, this beautiful garden called Earth, and many more.
This year, I’m especially thankful for God’s mercy and salvation, borne out of His great love for me.
Mercy! What a glorious thought!
Living life without God’s mercy? Inconceivable!
Loving and compassionate Father, how grateful I am to know You love me in spite of my sins and failures. How thankful I am for Your mercy to me—overflowing, infinite, sacrificial, without judgment. May I delight in Your compassion today, and may I ever extend Your mercy to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.S. I hope my great-niece Mercy gets to read this—I love her name!
© Copyright 2023 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. #mercy #loveofgod #inigomontoya #princessbride #inconceivable
Republished with permission from Blogs.crossmap.com, featuring inspiring Bible verses about The Privileged Life: The Abundant, Delightful Mercy of God.