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Mercy: A Recap

By Jeanine Camacho

Last month, the women at West Hills: San Jose held a seminar focused on mercy. This blog is a recap for any who might have missed, or who would like to review that content afresh.

What do you believe about mercy? Whatever it is, it matters, and I'll explain why: all of us have an invisible suitcase of beliefs that we are always drawing out of to help us respond to the world around us. And you have something in your suitcase about mercy. Your suitcase might hold ideas like,  “Mercy is serving the poor” “Mercy is giving money to good causes” “I am gifted at showing mercy” “I am NOT gifted at showing mercy”.
A few weeks back, our women spent the morning unpacking our own suitcases, and studying and discussing the things that should go back in them: what is mercy, why should we show it, what should it look like? Here are some of the highlights: 

Mercy is first a posture of the heart
Mercy is “God’s compassionate love for His creation that moves Him do for it what it cannot do for itself. Mercy thus forgives and liberates those who have no right to such blessings” (Baker Exegetical Dictionary). Mercy is rooted in the heart of God (Ex. 34:6), and He shows mercy ALL throughout the bible (He mercifully rescues vacillating Lot from his own weak convictions, protects Hagar from an oppressive master, commands care for the foreigner, orphan, and widow, and the list goes on…) And of course at the pinnacle of it all, God’s mercy is the reason we have access to salvation through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. God’s heart of mercy would not leave us on our own in our sin, but moved Him to come down to rescue us weak sinners who could not save ourselves. We all need mercy, and we who believe have all received that mercy in Him. Praise God!!

HOW DOES KNOWING GOD’S MERCY CHANGE ME? When I behold God’s mercy in Scripture, and when I relish His mercy for me in the Gospel, this begins to shape in me a heart posture of mercy that enables me to see the homeless person or the single mom, not as someone “other” than me, but as someone just like me-- a weak person in need of help and of great concern in the eyes of God.

Mercy is shown by us humans in a particular way
Mercy brings action. As we look in Scripture we see that our tangible expressions of mercy will usually happen in concentric circles: our immediate family first, the family of God next, the universal church, and then the outside world. Understanding these “orders of priority” can be a great help in discerning what mercy looks like for me today, this week, or this year.
Also, though all of us need mercy, God calls us to give special attention to those who are particularly in need: the vulnerable, the weak, and also those closest to us in proximity. 
Lastly, mercy is both physical and spiritual: Christians should desire to “eliminate all suffering, especially eternal suffering”. Thus we desire care for people’s bodies and their souls. To share the gospel with a needy heart is the greatest act of mercy we will ever perform, but it is also not the only one.

Those who are gifted should show mercy. Those who are not should grow in it.
If you are gifted in showing mercy, praise God! Use those gifts to serve the body of Christ. If you are not gifted for mercy, praise God that He wants to grow you in this area! We need each other: the merciful should draw others in while they do acts of mercy, and the “less-mercifully-inclined” should find opportunities to grow in it and ask others to help them as they go.

Ways you can ACT with mercy today:
  • Evaluate: am I showing mercy to those around me? Are there areas where I need to repent and grow, maybe even within my own family?
  • Read: do a Bible search for the word “mercy” and ask God to teach you.
  • Pray for opportunities, pray for a heart of mercy, go when there is opportunity
  • Add yourself to an email list from a local nonprofit in town
  • Watch people who are better than you at it
  • Talk to the people who are already doing it-- they probably need your encouragement, prayer, and maybe even your help
  • If you ARE gifted: invite someone to do it with you! 
  • Respond to emails asking for help and other opportunities when they come up
  • Tell others when you have needs or when you see needs you need help fulfilling

**LAST NOTE** Do you have a mercy ministry that could use prayer, encouragement, or support? Do you have ideas on how to expand our helping hands at church? Please contact me, let’s chat! (jeaninecamacho@gmail.com) 

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