In today’s post, I’m talking about the last of the Motivational Gifts found in Romans, chapter 12. It’s the heart of mercy.
…if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
This is probably the most misunderstood of the gifts. That’s because, in our generation, we have no concept of the biblical meaning of this word, mercy. It’s actually a very involved concept.
Let me try to explain it briefly.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites…you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness.”
This is actually a poor translation of what Jesus said. In the Greek, this literally says judgment, mercy, and faith. According to Jesus, these are the most important aspects of the law.
We understand faith and judgment. Faith is the basis for pleasing God – we need to trust Him. Judgment is what you get if you displease Him by breaking His law. In a nutshell, mercy is God’s reward for your faithfulness.
A few years back I wrote a series on mercy. If you want a more detailed explanation of mercy, click here.
Getting back to the heart of mercy, someone with this gift finds their joy in rewarding faithfulness in others. They want to see that people who put forth an effort receive a blessing.
Like I said, they’re sometimes misunderstood, and they’re accused of being too compassionate and forgiving. Sometimes it seems like they’re blessing those who don’t deserve it.
But, this is because of their unique perspective. They have a God-given ability to see the potential in a person who others reject. As they do this, someone with a merciful heart will sometimes bless this person based upon what they see as future faithfulness in Christ.
The Apostle Paul saw this aspect of God’s mercy in his own life. God looked ahead to what Paul would become in Christ.
Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.
1 Timothy 1:13
Someone with a heart of mercy will see what people could become and reward that. However, this could lead to problems. That’s why Paul exhorts a person with this gift to exercise it with cheerfulness.
The challenge is that unlike God, we can’t see the future. Sometimes a merciful heart is wrong about where the other person is headed. They’re told to be cheerful, because many times they can be disappointed by the outcome.
We need this perspective in the body of Christ. We need to be reminded that what people look and act like now doesn’t always reflect what they could become in Christ.
As a matter of fact, all of these gifts that I’ve talked about over the last few posts, are important in God’s kingdom. All of them are necessary to fulfill God’s calling on the church.
We are all created unique and different. That’s a good thing. Yes, sometimes our differences bring challenges. Sometimes we don’t understand the thinking of those with a different heart-gift.
Some find others gifts annoying. Sometimes we’ll envy the gifts of others. But, simply put, we need each other. And, we need to be what God created us to be.
I believe that’s why Paul opened this section by explaining that we are all the parts of a body (Romans 12:4-5). We were made to work together as a unit.
Be the blessing to others that you were meant to be.
Questions: Do you have a heart of mercy? Who do you know with this gift?
© 2021 Nick Zaccardi