Last week we looked at the first part of Micha 6:8b; how to do what is right. This Old Testament Scripture sums up well how we’re supposed to live as disciples of Christ. Again, the verse reads: “…this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
This week we’re going to take a look into what it means “to love mercy.”
What is Mercy
According to Webster’s Dictionary, mercy means “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power.”
Mercy is not easy, as it requires sacrifice on our parts. When we show mercy, we have acted in compassion instead of vengeance.
In Hebrew, the phrase “love mercy” is “hesed,” which can be used to refer to God’s loving kindness to us. Romans 5:8 says: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The Holy God gave the ultimate sacrifice – His one and only Son to bestow mercy on us, fallen sinners.
As disciples, the Lord expects us to demonstrate mercy. In Matthew 18:21-22, He makes this clear to Peter.
Peter asked: “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?””
“I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven,” Jesus replied.
Jean Valjean is a character in Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” who spent 19 years doing hard labor for a stealing bread. Released from his bond, a criminal, Valjean isn’t welcome anywhere, but a local church.
At the church Valjean is welcome by Bishop Myriel with the kind gesture and words: “Though our lives are very humble, what we have we have to share.” A concept, I’m sure was difficult for someone who was punished so severely for stealing food.
Later, Valjean sneaks off in the night with the church’s silverware and is caught by the police the next day. When asked about the silver, he tells the police that they were given to him. So, they take Valjean back to the church to corroborate his story.
The bishop, who showed Valjean such charity had been repaid with a hurtful betrayal – the theft of the church’s few extravagant possessions. The bishop has every right to refute the lie. Instead, the bishop grabs the church’s silver candlesticks and gives them to Valjean too. He tells the police that, yes, he gave Valjean the silver, but he had forgotten the candlesticks.
Once the police leave, the bishop tells Valjean: “…my brother: you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God!”
The bishop looked beyond the outside and saw the heart of Valjean – He was a poor and abused man who knew no other way of life; much like us. The bishop’s compassion toward this lost man is much like the mercy the Lord shows us each and every day. Pass it on.
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