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A characteristic of God is that he is merciful and compassionate (Exodus 34:6; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalms 103:13; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 2:4). This characteristic showed itself clearly in Jesus Christ who, though God, lived in the world as a human being and demonstrated the mercy that God has towards a needy human race (Matthew 9:36; Matthew 14:14; Luke 7:13).

The most striking demonstration of divine mercy is God’s great act of salvation in saving sinners from the just consequences of their sins and giving them forgiveness and eternal life (Numbers 14:18-19; Psalms 86:5; Isaiah 63:9; Romans 2:4; Romans 11:32; Titus 3:4-5; 1 Peter 2:3). Even in the rituals of the Old Testament, the sinners were dependent entirely on God’s mercy for their acceptance with God. It was God’s mercy, not their religious acts, that saved them. For this reason God’s throne was called the mercy seat. It was the place where God symbolically sat and where he mercifully accepted repentant sinners into his presence (Exodus 25:21-22; cf. Hebrews 4:16; see TABERNACLE).

Those who claim to be God’s people must also be merciful and compassionate (Luke 6:36; Luke 10:36-37; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 2:10). This means more than that they should have pity and concern for others. They must actually do something (James 2:15-16; 1 John 3:17-19). In particular they should give help to those in society who are liable to be disadvantaged, such as orphans, widows, aliens, the persecuted, the afflicted and the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29; Deuteronomy 24:19; Proverbs 19:17; Micah 6:8; Zechariah 7:9-10; Luke 10:29-37; Romans 12:8; James 1:27). They should show mercy even to those who annoy or oppose them (2 Kings 6:21-22; Luke 6:35; Romans 12:20; Ephesians 4:32).

Jesus’ parables and other teachings are a constant reminder that God takes notice of the way people treat others. God promises that he will have mercy upon those who practise mercy to others (Matthew 5:7; Matthew 25:34-40). Those who show no mercy to others will receive no mercy from God in the day of judgment (Matthew 18:21-35; Luke 16:24-26; James 2:13). (See also GRACE; LOVE.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Mercy'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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