Mercy tends to be one of the less understood character qualities in Christian living. The world sometimes portrays mercy as weak, defenceless, and undesirable. Yet Jesus qualifies it as integral to salvation; “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
Following his explanation of the Holy Spirit’s work of growing holiness within the believer (2Co 3:17-18), Paul speaks of the essential mercy God dispences. “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:1). God’s compassionate interaction in life grows Christ-like holy character. Christians are to recognise His training (Heb 12:6-11) through both the pleasant and unpleasant events of life which are all under the Lord’s sovereign control. In this understanding we find comfort and motivation to persevere.
Consequentially, as Paul continues, a correct response to this working of mercy says; “we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways” (2 Corinthians 4:2a). The child of God responds to mercy discipline by taking away more of the old ways so Christ’s new ways can develop. Paul chose to abandon his sin influenced attitudes, behaviours, habits, and bad speech, in response to God’s mercy.
As you would expect, God’s Word is central to this whole mercy development. Scripture is the Lord’s compassionate investment in your mind and heart so truth can conquer your behaviour. Therefore; “We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word…” (2 Corinthians 4:2b). Spiritual integrity holds God’s written Word above all else. It’ not to be altered, misrepresented, distorted, or even rationalised away in any way. All of Scripture is God’s mouthpiece of mercy.
Paul continues; “…by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2c). Paul’s statement here should be the statement of every person who claims Christ. It’s only upon the foundation of God’s written Word of truth that any believer has anything of divine value to offer others. The absolute truth of God’s Word was Paul’s primary instrument for influencing others consciences.
This is heavenly mercy at work. Our words fail miserably. Our actions of love are wonderfully necessary, but fail to bring transforming regeneration to another person. Only the Word of God, empowered by the Spirit of God, can bring repentance leading to spiritual rebirth and growing sanctification.
Its here we see God’s mercy at work. You see, God’s love is never stagnant; it’s never dormant, even though we often fail to recognise it. His love is always expressed through action, through taking His resources and pouring them into our lives – that’s mercy.
I want to encourage you; God’s Word empowers your ability to recognise His mercy. Make no mistake; “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). There is absolutely no substitute for the written Word of God. The Bible is like no other book. It alone has the pen-print of the Holy Spirit (2Pe 1:20-21), and is therefore able to accomplish in your life what nothing and no-one else can.
God’s Word reaches deep within, to places no human can reach. The Psalmist made the connection when he wrote; “Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart” (Psalms 119:34). The target of heavenly mercy is your mind and heart. That is the part of us requiring regeneration and constant renewal in Christ. Today, determine to be a person who lives God’s mercy. The Lord will be honoured, others will be blessed, and you will be joyful.