I don’t know about you but mercy is a word I don’t use a lot and we certainly don’t tend to hear it a lot in society today. You may not really understand the true meaning of the word but the dictionary says mercy is:
‘Compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm’.
As Christians we have recognised that God is the ultimate mercy-giver and has shown us unbelievable mercy that we never deserved. He is prepared to overlook our sin because of the sacrifice his son Jesus made that covers all our sin and when he looks at us he sees us white as snow. He could so easily meter out punishment but he loves us so much and desires to be in a right relationship with us and this is made possible by his son Jesus. As mercy has freely and abundantly been shown to us God desires us to show his mercy to others.
Matt 18:33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’
So, as Christians we are called to be merciful and when we get saved God starts to mould us into the likeness of his son Jesus, so showing mercy should become second nature to us. It is also one of the gifts of the spirit and as such some people have a different depth of mercy which moves them to do amazing things.
2Cor 3:18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
The Greek word for the spiritual gift of mercy is Eleeo which means to be patient and compassionate toward those who are suffering or afflicted. This goes beyond just caring about their spiritual needs and is also concerned with their physical needs. People with the gift of mercy long to see people come through a healing process and are able to give their time, over an extended period in some cases, to go through it with them and support them.
In my church, we have a social action ministry called the Jericho Road Project that at its heart is about showing God’s love to all people but especially those who are in poverty, suffering with addictions, homeless and living on the streets of South East London and lacking hope.
Roms 12:8 If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
People who have this gift tend to be able to show compassion at a deep level and can literally feel when people aren’t doing well and are hurting and then can come alongside them in it and share their pain. They are usually very good listeners and the sort of people that are there for you through thick or thin.
Roms 12:15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
People with the gift also have a deep sense of compassion for those with mental health issues or emotional distress and often people with these issues would naturally gravitate towards them. They will endeavour to do all they can to remove the hurt for someone or the cause of the hurt.
Over the summer I was fortunate enough to bump into a guy called Josh Coombes. I had seen him on Instagram and knew that he was a hairdresser who has decided to cut people’s hair for free who were living on the streets in London. I was able to sit and have a coffee with him and chat to him about what he was doing and I was overwhelmed by what an incredible young man he is and his heart for the disadvantaged.
He has a couple of friends who have been going round with him, one taking photos of before and after to post on Insta and he has also been sharing the stories of those he meets on Insta (with their permission). They started a social action campaign called Do Something for Nothing where they are encouraging people to use what talent they have to help others without expecting anything back in return and it has blown up all over social media with them being interviewed in the press and many opportunities coming their way to promote this fantastic campaign worldwide.
As you have been reading about this gift you may have felt that it was describing you and your next step is to find out more. If you haven’t already you can use the Spiritual Gift Guide to point you towards your giftings. Once you know your areas of gifting life takes on a whole new meaning as you start to realise what makes you feel alive when you are moving and serving in that area.
I also recently heard about a ministry called Mercy UK who are called to equip the church, leaders and individuals who want to work with young women who have life controlling issues and are seeking freedom. If you would like to find out more about any of the campaigns I have mentioned or are wondering how you can get involved with the Jericho Road Project or http://www.dosomethingfornothing.net/ click on the links.
The gift of mercy is a beautiful gift and we live in a world where we so desperately need more people to show mercy to others. Thank you so much for all you are going to bring to the world around you by recognising the gift that you carry.
If you want to read about other ‘Gifts of the Spirit’ please check out my other posts in this series: