The Attributes of God: Merciful
Today, I am tasked with writing to you about one of the attributes of God, being His mercy. Before I delve into that, I want to tell you about my story of being a recipient to said mercy.
I get it, I mean I really, really get it. I used to talk the talk and walk the walk of a “Christian” girl…I did the right things, I said the right things, and nobody knew of the deep struggle with sin I engaged in. Pride, fornication, lust, habitual sin I labeled “normal” when truly this was leading me down a path named death.
Death felt good, it tasted good, it enticed me with promises of satisfaction. Although it looked good from the outside and its short-lived fantasy proved fulfilling for the moment, it always left me empty. A hole that could never be filled by my own doing. I didn’t understand the weight of my selfishness and how the effects of it were damnable. I figured, hey, I’m not as bad as this person, so, I’ll be alright…
"For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23
"For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death." Romans 7:5
"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." 1 John 1:8
"For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out." Romans 7:18
According to the Scriptures, without Christ there was nothing I could do to fix my situation. Apart from Him, I had no hope. I couldn’t do anything to make myself right with God…this was good news, though. The Scriptures explicitly state how dead we are in our sin and without the mercy of God we would still be in this hopeless state.
“Not by works of righteousness we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” Titus 3:5
It is only when we understand how depraved we are that we will truly know how desperately we need His grace…and His mercy which flows so endlessly (Psalm 136:1). You see, you and I didn’t do anything to deserve His excellent mercy…His justified mercy, satisfied by merit of Christ who paid the penalty of our wretchedness. His mercy is part of who He is, and what this means for believers brings me humbly to tears and repentance.
Grace and mercy, mercy and grace…words that are used so many times to describe God, but do we really understand the weight of what this truth means for us? If God is a merciful God like the Bible explicitly states, then there are a few things this means for believers and unbelievers.
As believers, it is our duty to study and know the Word. Without knowledge of who God is, we cannot genuinely be transformed. The living God of the universe, who actively engages in the lives of His children, reveals Himself through the Holy Spirit when we read the Scriptures. It is only through Him we can have revealed knowledge of the Living Hope.
Understanding the attribute of mercy that is part of the Divine character of God is life changing. I never received the mercy of God because I never knew that God was merciful and what that meant for me. For one to receive the mercy of God in their lives, they must first know God is merciful. And God is the only one who can reveal this Truth to us sinners who are dead in our sin.
So, the Bible says that the mercy of God is rich (Ephesians 2:4), tender (Luke 1:78), abundant (Psalm 69:16), endures forever (Lamentations 3:22), and is everlasting for those that fear Him (Psalm 103:17). Wow, these truths are amazing for those who have received the faith! The mercy of God is not extended to everyone in the same manner.
There are three different kinds of mercy which I will explain in the following. There is the general mercy of God which is extended to all creation, believers, and unbelievers (Psalm 145:9). This just means God provides His creation with suitable provision (Acts 17:25). There is special mercy (Matthew 5:45) and then sovereign mercy which God extends only to His saints. Yes, even the wicked have been shown mercy by God…but this mercy He shows them is only temporal in nature. There will be no mercy extended to them beyond the grave (Isaiah 27:11). The sovereign mercy of God is reserved for those who are believers and this mercy is communicated to them in a covenant way through the Mediator, Christ (Arthur W. Pink).
I’ve met many, many people who know little about the divine nature of God and foolishly think that God will show them mercy after they’ve lived a wicked life, and they won’t be held accountable for their actions because God is merciful. God may be merciful, but the mercy of God is just. This means nonbelievers will not be shown mercy when they die. And this would be justice for them, even so. His sheep, though, those who have repented and believed the Gospel, will forever be in the presence of His divine mercy for all the ages to come.
You say, but how can He justly show His sovereign mercy to His followers if we are all born sinners and are wicked? Christ. Christ has satisfied the wrath of God and became sin who knew no sin, so that we can be justified before a righteous and holy God. Also noted, it isn’t because of Christ that God shows His elect mercy; it is because of the mercy of God that He sent His Son to die for them. Try wrapping your mind around that. God is supreme and does not act outside of Himself. Through His tender mercy, He made a way for sinners like you and me to come to know Him, through Christ. The death of Jesus makes it possible for God to righteously extend His sovereign mercy to us. Mercy arises solely from God’s imperial pleasure (Arthur W. Pink).
“For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’” Romans 9:15
So, it does not depend on human will or efforts on who God will show mercy on, but on God Himself. We do not dictate whether or not God will show us mercy. We have become objects of His sovereign mercy through the Blood of the Lamb. He didn’t die for everyone the same way, nor does God show mercy to everyone in the same manner. The Scriptures explicitly state He chooses whomever He wills to have mercy on, general or sovereign.
You don’t like this? I pray God would illuminate the Truth for you because this is what the Living Word says whether you like it or agree with it or not. It is the pure sovereign grace of God alone that determines the exercise of His divine mercy which is definitely affirmed in Romans 9:15. If God does not choose to show someone His sovereign mercy, it is simply not His pleasure to do so. What is so amazing is that there is nothing outside of God which causes Him to act. He is supreme. He will never cease to be merciful (Psalm 116:5), while at the same time, He will never be unjustified.
We serve a just God, and this is awesome news for believers because instead of looking at us and our sin, He looks at the merit of Christ which covers us. Because of the tender mercies of God, Christ was sent here for His people. God didn’t leave us dead in our sin and trespasses; He made a way. Justice was satisfied by His Son through His death. Knowing the nature of God has great implications when we look at what the Bible actually says.
Instead of wondering why God chooses some people and not others to extend His sovereign mercy, we should wonder why He chooses any at all. We deserve death for our offenses against a holy and righteous God. God is supreme; we are not. God is merciful; we are not. From the foundations of the world, God existed and always has been merciful. Let that seep into the marrow of your existence. Whether you believe or not, it is because of His divine mercy that you are here right now breathing.
It gives me great hope and joy that I know God who is both righteously merciful and just. There is great joy in knowing my debt is paid and God’s sovereign mercy in my life will always be for all eternity. His mercy is inexhaustible and infinite.
We must repent of our ignorance and unbelief before we can truly know the joy of God’s mercy. Through Christ Jesus, we may lay hold of the mercy of God now and forever. When we have a transformed knowledge of who God is, we can then have better reverence for Him. Instead of pleading for His mercy, grab hold of it because it is free, boundless, and available to us now in our present life.
My God is reconciled;
His pardoning voice I hear:
He owns me for His child;
I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.
- Charles Wesley
Hannah Cruse is a 23 year-old coffee-lover, craft beer enthusiast, and lover of the Lord. She is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, but currently resides in Tennessee. Hiking, writing poetry, and playing basketball are some of her favorite activities! She loves to make people laugh, read her Bible, kickbox, and listen to Paul Washer. She desires to further God's kingdom through her writings in hopes that people would come to know the loving kindness of our almighty Creator.