In my hometown, you could say anything bad about anybody as long as you said, “Bless their hearts” first, like this:
- “Bless his heart, he never did have the brains God gave a grasshopper.”
- “Did you see that outfit Edna Mae wore to church last Sunday? Bless her heart, you know she must be color blind.”
Not exactly the Biblical concept of blessing, huh? And we misused the word “mercy” this way:
- “Lord have mercy, she looks like a hussy. You’d think she’d have better sense than to wear her clothes so tight.”
- “Lord have mercy, was that Deacon Jones coming out of the liquor store?”
Sometimes we said “it’s a mercy” or “for mercy’s sake,” or, if we had a lot to say and were in a hurry, just plain “mercy.”
- “It’s a mercy he hasn’t had a wreck – the way that boy drives.”
- “For mercy’s sake, you know they don’t have the money for that new car. They’re going into debt again.”
But here’s the truth. “Mercy” and “blessing” are important words when we use them the right way. We are blessed, and God’s mercy is marvelous.
- Mercy means compassionate treatment. God treats us with compassion when we surrender our lives to him.
- Mercy means undeserved kindness. Because Christ has paid the penalty for our sins, God gives us mercy instead of justice.
- Merciful people are inclined to forgive. That describes God, too. It’s a good thing, because we all need his forgiveness.
How do we know God is merciful? In Exodus, when Moses was on Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, God appeared and described himself as, “The God of compassion and mercy…slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6 NLT).
Mercy was a favorite topic of David’s. In the Psalms we read:
- “I have trusted in thy mercy” (Psalm 13:5 KJV).
- “I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy” (Psalm 31:7 KJV).
- “The Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting” (Psalm 100:5 KJV).
David knew God was merciful, that he needed God’s mercy, and that he could ask for it and receive it. So can we, not because of any goodness in us, but because mercy is one aspect of God’s character. His very nature is to be merciful.
Hebrews 4:16 (NIV) says, “Let us then approach God’s throne with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Since we receive mercy, we’re instructed to give it as well. Jesus said, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36 NIV).
So here’s an unusual challenge for you. Every time you see an M&M let it remind you that you’re blessed by God’s Marvelous Mercy. God is kind and loving. He knows all things and is all-powerful. And being blessed by his mercy is a truly wonderful gift.
Photo by Robert Anasch via Unsplash