Mercy: what it means and what the Bible says about it


Mercy is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as, "Compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm." In Christianity, it's a quality that we attribute to God based on his merciful acts and character as revealed throughout the Bible. God's mercy is steeped in love and it underpins our salvation, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him," (John 3:16-17). We didn't deserve to receive God's mercy but we did because it's a central part of his character and it knows no bounds. Mercy is a quality that we should seek to extend to others because God showed us the greatest mercy of all. The following Bible verses illustrate the scope of God's mercy, what it means for us and why we should show compassion to others.

Titus 3:4-5 - But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.

Matthew 6:7 - Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Matthew 9:13 - But go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

Jude 1:22-23 - Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

Luke 6:36 - Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

James 2:13 - Because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

1 Peter 1:3 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given is new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

2 Chronicles 30:9 - If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.

Lamentations 3:22-23 - Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Psalm 25:6-7 - Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.