by Rick Warren — April 12, 2017
No characteristic describes God more fully than mercy. It’s the first trait that God uses to describe himself in Scripture. It’s also an important characteristic for any serious follower of Jesus to develop. If it’s such a core part of who God is, it’s got to be essential for us.
But what should motivate us to show mercy to people in our lives?
Jesus said, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36 NIV).
Before you judge others for their sins and failures, remember how many times God has forgiven you. When it seems inconvenient to help somebody in need, stop and remember how God has comforted you when you were hurting. When you think about those people who try your patience, stop and remember how patient God has been with you. And when you feel like getting even with somebody who has been unkind or unfair to you, stop and remember how kind God was to you when you were his enemy (see Romans 5:10).
I can’t expect to be perfect from now until the time I die, so I’m going to need more mercy. The Bible says, “No mercy will be shown to those who show no mercy to others” (James 2:13a GW). I need God’s forgiveness, kindness, patience, and help every day of my life. God says you get what you give. Forgiveness and mercy are a two-way street.
Jesus said, “Happy are those who are merciful to others” (Matthew 5:7a GNT). Doing acts of mercy gets me out of myself. It gets my focus off of me and onto other people. And that produces happiness. In fact, a tremendous way to treat depression is through acts of mercy. As you give your life away, happiness begins to come back to you, and the clouds of depression begin to lift and blow away.