I didn't know exactly what mercy meant until I felt it. I knew the definition of it from my religious upbringing. Something to the effect of God not giving me what I deserve and instead giving me what I don't deserve. Wait, maybe that's grace's definition....I get them mixed up.
Mercy me, I am challenged to write what I've learned about mercy, both in head knowledge and heart knowledge.
Let's start with the head:
Mercy - eleeo (verb) - to have pity or mercy on, to show mercy. The word has often been inadequately defined merely as clemency or forgiveness, holding back deserved punishment or affliction. Actually, eleeo means to relieve affliction, alleviate suffering or distress, ease misery. It is the concrete expression of pity and compassion for the destitute or those in misery which undertakes to mollify or remove their suffering.
I find words easier to understand if I see how they are used in a sentence or a scenario. Take for example how it is used in Matthew 5:7; 9:27; 15:22; 17:15; 18:33; 20:30, 31. Each of these scenes the word eleeos (mercy) is used in a way that if I were to translate it for you I would say this: Lord, feel my pain!
Matthew 5:7 - Blessed are those who feel the pain of others for then their pain will be felt by others.
Matthew 9:27 - As Jesus went on, two blind men followed him, calling out, "Jesus, feel our pain then please do something about it!"
Matthew 15:22 - A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, feel my pain and help my daughter."
Matthew 17:15 - "Lord, feel the pain of my son and help him," he said. "he has seizures and is suffering greatly...."
Now, I wasn't at any of these encounters Jesus had with these suffering people. And if you read this from our 2015 eyes, at first you may think mercy is the beginning of the definition I shared above. "clemency or forgiveness, holding back deserved punishment or affliction."
Isn't that the first thing we think when someone is suffering and in great pain. They deserve it. They did it to themselves. That's what they get for smoking, drinking, chewing, overeating......etc. etc. etc. If that's all you read in these passages, I agree, it's an honest conclusion to reach.
But you can't just read those passages, you have to read the rest of the story and see what Jesus did next so you may see like I did they were crying to him to help them, to relieve the suffering.
Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you," and their sight was restored.
Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted. And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.
You see what the blind man, the Canaanite woman and the father did, don't you? They asked for help.
They saw Jesus, they believed in his power to heal and they asked for help in their suffering.
I would venture to guess that they were not asking for clemency or forgiveness. When people suffer and believe the lies that they somehow cause the suffering and even deserve the suffering, forgiveness is not the first thing they seek. There is an unhealthy belief that they are getting what they deserve.
But Jesus doesn't operate that way. At least it doesn't appear that he does in these lives.
He felt their pain, he agonized in their suffering. He hurt just as much as they did, but he wasn't going to just heal them for his sake.
The hardest thing for a sin drenched slug to do sometimes is ask for help.
That's why Jesus had to do the work on the cross. If he had waited for us to realize we needed help, he would still be waiting. Our sins would still be unpunished and the suffering we suffer may be directly related to our unredeemed sins.
But they're not. His work on the cross has taken care of the punishment we deserve.
Some of our suffering may be consequences of things we've done, but some may just be because we live in a sin drenched world.
Jesus sees and feels and hears and suffers our sufferings no matter where they originate.
But just like a whiny child who whines and complains and gets angry when things don't go his or her way and refuses to ask for help to do something his mom and dad are more than capable of helping with, Jesus sometimes, not always, but sometimes does the same thing.
He has no problem waiting for us to ask for help.
Lord, have mercy on me! Lord, help me.
Please, Lord, help me. I can't see and I stumble and I feel people laughing at me, making a joke of me as I walk along blindly, my arms held out trying to find my way.
Please, Lord, help my child. I know I don't deserve anything you have for me, but Jesus, help me anyway.
Please, Lord, help my son. We've tried everything, we've gone to the best doctors, the best hospitals, the best of everything and still my child suffers. Lord, help me. Please, help me.
So Jesus is good at eleeo. Ir comes from the eleos (noun) of his heart. The attitude, the disposition, the feeling, the compassion he has for us. He wants to help us. He longs to relieve us from our daily suffering and misery.
But he also likes to be asked.
I know though, that I am very, very guilty of expecting something from Him, just because I know he knows and he could do something about it. I would guess that he appreciates being asked for help and not just assumed he will help because he's God and he should know my needs and want to help me without needing me to ask.
(Hmmmmm.....I don't appreciate anyone assuming I will help just because I am a "Christian" and that's what Christians are supposed to do. Maybe I get that characteristic from Him. But when I'm asked and aware of what the need is, I will do my best to find a way I can help. I think that comes from him too. But you have to tell me what your need is before I can help you.)
Often, when I'm whining and complaining to him, but not asking him for help, this still small voice whispers, "You just need to ask me for help."
So I do and he does. Not always immediately, nor in the way I think he should, but when I cry out to him for help, immediately I am released from the suffering and misery of trying to figure out things for myself or waiting for answer to drop from the sky.
He just wants to be asked.
Lord, help me. In the eleos that is in your heart, eleeos me! Help me.
All we have to do is ask. Go ahead, ask Him. Jesus doesn't just talk about showing mercy, he acts mercifully. Always has, always will. He is a noun and a verb, evenly balanced. ASK!!!!
Matthew 5:7; 9:27, 15:22; 17:15; 18:33; 20:30; 20:31
Mark 5:19; 10:47, 48
Romans 9:15, 16, 18; 11:30, 31,32; 12:8
1 Corinthians 7:25
2 Corinthians 4:1
1 Timothy 1:13,16
1 Peter 2:10
Matthew 9:13; 12:7; 23:23
Luke 1:50,58,72,78 (and this tender mercy - tender means comes from the gut, the deepest part of his being, I can hardly stand it! Friends, God is soooooooo in love with you); 10:37
Romans 9:23,11:31; 15:9
1 Timothy 1:2
2 Timothy 1:2, 16,18
James 2:13; 3:17
1 Peter 1:3
2 John 1:3
Jud 2, 21