The mercy of God involves the following. One, of course, is His person-who He is. This text opens up in Psalm 103 and says, “Bless the Lord. Bless His holy name.” And notice what verse 8 says: “The Lord is merciful.” Now the Lord does show mercy. The Lord has acts of mercy, but the Bible says that the Lord is mercy. The Lord is merciful, so it involves His person, who He is.
Psalm 111:4 says, “He is full of compassion.” It is interesting how often when we relate to God, we are not really sure who He is. We think we know but let me tell you something: God is not part mercy. God is mercy. God is everything mercy could ever hope to be. He is that kind of a Lord to us and I sure am glad. I hope you are too. He is full of compassion.
Psalm 115:5 says, “Gracious is the Lord and righteous.” Yes, our God is merciful. It refers to who He is.
Psalm 119:64 says, “The earth, O Lord, is full of Your mercy.”
Psalm 119:156 says, “Great are Your tender mercies, O Lord.”
Psalm 145:8 says, “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion. Great in mercy.”
And also in the New Testament in Ephesians 2:4 it says that He is rich in mercy because of His great love.
I think a lot of people believe that they have blown it so bad in their life that there is no hope for them. I hear that so much. I hear people who say, “Well if he only knew what I am really like and what I have done, there is no way I could possibly be what you are asking me to be.” God never is asking you to be anything apart from who He is. He provides all that you need. He is not trusting you to perform. That should be good news for a lot of people today. That should just take a heavy burden right off of you. The good news of the gospel is who God is. We already know what stinkers we are. Amen? We often like to say if we knew what was in the heart of the person next to us, we would move. We do not want to know about depravity. We want to know about God’s grace and God’s mercy. And mercy is what God is.
When you come to the Lord, you are not coming to somebody who is sitting with a baseball bat ready to club you for every false move. The Bible teaches that His essential nature and character is mercy. Mercy holds back from us what we really deserve. While grace gives us what we do not deserve. How wonderful it is to know that it involves His person. That is what His character is like. There is never a moment when you come to the Lord that He stops being merciful.
Now that is not always true of people. Every now and then you run into somebody who you say has real compassion and care. They are very merciful and what a shock it is when you see that on a certain occasion or two, they are not merciful. Even the best among us who major in compassion, can, at certain moments, not have it. There is a gift, a spiritual gift, the Bible says, of showing mercy. We believe it is compassion for the sick and suffering. And how delightful it is, especially for those who have visited folks who are sick, to come in and know that they are full of compassion. When you are sick and lying on your bed, you do not want somebody coming in and discussing thirty-two reasons why you deserve what you are getting. I mean, at that moment you want somebody who says, “I love you.” And they exercise mercy and care when you want a few strokes. God has the spiritual gift of showing mercy and compassion on the sick and suffering.
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One of my favorite stories is of my own mother when she had open-heart surgery several years ago. She had four bypasses. I was sitting like a good son (also her pastor, by the way), but I was sitting like a good son in the recovery room waiting for her. And the doctor let me sit in there waiting for her to wake up. And as soon as she finally just started to wake up, after several hours, I walked over to her and she took one look at me. Before I could even say anything, she said, “Where’s Pastor Lloyd?” She was referring to my good friend Pastor Lloyd Rinks, who works in hospital visitation. And I said, “Mother, this is your son!” She said, “Well, I know, but I need somebody with compassion.”
Dear friends, we know what mercy is and it is such a delight to be around people who are merciful and kind and compassionate. We often need that sympathy and that encouragement; but let me tell you something; even the best of us in that area often do not show care.
There is One who is in heaven, whose throne is there, who rules all the affairs of men and sees everything that we do. He is not sometimes merciful and sometimes judgmental. Our heavenly Father is always merciful. And the Bible even calls His throne, “the throne of grace where we may obtain [what?] mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Isn’t it wonderful to know that He is the Lord we come to? He is merciful. He knows what we are like and He knows we are not worth much. But He invites us to come to Him and He wants to do these wonderful things for us. How wonderful is the mercy of our Lord!