Style of Mercy
Originally scheduled for May 8
The apostle Paul lists for us what might be considered the
elements of style in mercy:
We might begin considering how Christ exhibited these
characteristics to us, on the Cross.
His compassion is shown to us in the fact that he came in the form
of a human being. Compassion is necessarily something that involves
some similarity. Had he just floated in on a cloud and pronounced
forgiveness, we would take it much less personally.
His kindness is shown in what he did not do: he did not berate
those who were crucifying him, but understood that they too were
intended to be saved. In his kindness he allowed those who were the
ones who crucified him to become children of God like all others.
His humility is quite apparent. Here the Lord of the universe
submits himself to the injustice of man, and makes no complaint.
His gentleness might best be exemplified by his care for his
mother. On the cross, in intense suffering, he took the time and
trouble to commend his mother’s care to his best friend, the apostle
His patience is with us today; he is waiting for all who will be
saved to come in before his return to judge the living and the dead.
We can follow this style in our own lives, in imitation of
Our compassion may take the form of throwing an arm around
somebody’s shoulder, which demonstrates the essential of compassion:
it is mercy shown from one equal to another.
Kindness is often best shown with those who are regularly
offensive. Not taking anger, but treating them as one who needs to
be gently corrected, making sure that they are not humiliated in the
Humility is required for compassion and mercy; otherwise we tend to
give mercy out with a great dose of pride. It makes us feel good,
but I would question whether or not the recipient sees us as humble
Our gentleness is often the leading edge of mercy. It is often
difficult for the recipient to distinguish mercy from vengeance;
gentleness goes a long way in making sure we are correctly
And patience? Sometimes we must wait for the right opportunity to
show mercy. For some, we must wait until a large opportunity comes
along; for others it may be the next offense today.
At communion, we celebrate Christ’s ultimate mercy. The
bread and the cup are simple symbols of our forgiveness, the mercy
that Christ has shown for us. Simple, yet profound, they touch the
heart of every Christian. It is so important that God tells us
(Matthew 5:7) the God shows mercy to the merciful, so there is a
great benefit to this imitation of Christ. Indeed the style is so
important that the apostle tells us (Romans 12:8) that we are to
deliver mercy with cheerfulness. Perhaps our difficulty with mercy
is that we enjoy receiving it more than we do giving it.