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The prophet Micah poses a striking question: “What does the Lord require of you?” And as if to underscore that the question is of great import, he immediately provides the answer: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8, NIV). There are three commands expressed in this verse, but let me focus on the phrase—to love mercy.
What is mercy? The Oxford Dictionary defines mercy as showing “compassion or forgiveness . . . toward someone” who otherwise deserves to be punished or harmed. The Merriam Dictionary defines it as a “compassionate treatment of those in distress.” In both definitions, we see the word “compassion,” and this compassion is given to those who do not deserve it and to those who are in distress.
Mercy - Something - Parable - King - Merciless
When I think of mercy as something that is undeserved, I remember the parable of the merciful king and the merciless servant. Jesus, in telling this parable, contrasts the king, who extended mercy to the servant who owed him a huge amount of money and therefore deserved punishment, with the same servant, who after receiving mercy from the king withheld it from his fellow servant who owed him a small amount of money. When the servant pleaded, “Be patient with me, . . . and I will pay back everything” (Matt. 18:26, NIV), without a second thought, the king gave him more than what he asked. The king canceled his huge debt—all of it! Through this parable, God wants us to have a clear picture of what mercy is like. Obviously, the servant deserved punishment but, instead, the king showed him compassion and forgave him his debt. On the contrary, the wicked servant, who having received compassion and forgiveness, did not extend mercy to his fellow servant.
While we may be struck by...
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