Are you a merciful person? Most of us would answer, “I think I am merciful. I feel the pain of my hurting brothers and sisters in Christ, and I try to help them. I do my best to assist my neighbors in need. When people hurt me, I forgive them and don’t hold a grudge.”
I believe all true Christians have a good measure of mercy for the lost and hurting. I thank God for that. The sad truth, though, is that God’s Word exposes in many of us deep roots of bias. There are many people to whom large numbers of Christians limit God’s mercy. I think of prostitutes who work in godless brothels, people dying by the thousands with AIDS, homosexuals who endure endless heartaches and mental anguish in the trials of their lives and people who drink themselves into oblivion to try to cover their pain.
From what I read in scripture, my Savior would never turn down the desperate cry of a prostitute, homosexual, drug addict or alcoholic who has hit rock bottom. His mercies are unlimited; there is no end to them. The Bible clearly states, “Great are your tender mercies, O Lord; revive me according to your judgments” (Psalm 119:156, NKJV) and “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:8-9) as well as many other passages that talk of God’s mercy.
Therefore, as his church — Christ’s representative body on the earth — we cannot cut off anyone who cries out for mercy and deliverance.
We may not even be aware of these inner biases until suddenly they’re in our face, confronting us with the truth about our hearts. As you consider this in your own life, I ask you again, are you a merciful person, tender and loving? Ask those around you — your family, coworkers, neighbors, friends of a different color — and see how they respond.
Christ promised his followers, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:6-8). Let us make those blessings ours and show God’s mercy to the world.