Bible Reading: Matthew 18:21-35
In our reading today, the man who was forgiven much refused to forgive his fellow servant who owed him so little. Jesus said to the unforgiving servant, “Should you not also have had compassion [“mercy” Amplified Bible] on your fellow servant just as I had pity of you” [verse 33].
To show mercy on someone is to be compassionate to those who suffer and are needy, but it also to pardon and forgive those who have done wrong to you. The unmerciful refuse to forgive!
Joseph’s brothers treated him unmercifully, putting him in a pit and selling him into slavery. Later, when they were at his mercy, Joseph showed them mercy. He wept for their misery, met their needs, forgave them and restored them. He said, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” [Genesis 50:20]. Forgiveness did not make the wrong into a right. Joseph was quite clear about that – “You meant it for evil,” but he could see the sovereignty of God even in the wrong that was done to him. Mercy is not treating someone as they deserve but instead offering them forgiveness.
To the merciful, God offers this wonderful promise: that they shall obtain mercy. It is the law of proportionate returns! When you forgive, you are forgiven; when you give you, will receive; what you sow, you reap; when you honour people, you yourself will be honoured; and when you are merciful, you will obtain mercy! As you do to others, so shall it be done to you.
Consider some of the blessings that the Bible promises to those who are merciful: Their children will be blessed [Psalm 37:26]. We read In Psalm 112:4-9 that the compassionate man [v4, 5, 9a] will have light [v4]; experience good [v5]; be secure [v6-8]; be remembered forever [v6b, 9b] and will be honoured [v9c]. The merciful find favour and high esteem before God and men [Proverbs 3:3-4]. The merciful man does good for his own soul [Proverbs 11:17]. He who is merciful finds life, honour and righteousness [Proverbs 21:21]. In Luke 6:35-36 Jesus makes it clear that those who show mercy will have a great reward and will be called sons of the Most High!
Describe in your own words the meaning of being merciful. Now on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the highest, how do you rate yourself in being merciful?
We know that forgiving those who have hurt us is a part of showing mercy. What did Jesus say about the relationship between being forgiven and being merciful in Luke 7:47?