Mercy Shows Itself In Many Forms
What does God really say about justice and mercy?
As recorded in the Bible, we know God's people are encouraged to respond to His blessings by helping others and giving generously to the poor. But did you know the term “mercy” in the scriptures is closely related to the term “justice,” which includes rest from work for servants and animals alike?
In the Bible, the giving of gifts (alms) to the needy is strongly encouraged, and those who do so are promised a full life:
...Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives.
Then my favor will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you; my presence will protect you on every side. Isaiah 58:6-8 (GNT)
The Hebrew word used for "mercy" is hesed, a legal term that means acting faithfully to God's covenant or agreement. Acts of mercy are closely related to the concern for "justice" in the Scriptures. Israel's God expects the people to be fair in their dealings with others.
From the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 14, 24 and Ruth 2) to the Sabbath law (Deut 5:12-15), God clearly declares our responsibility in showing others mercy and justice.
The teachings of Jesus in the New Testament continue this emphasis the importance of giving to the poor, even instructing how to go about it modestly:
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matt 6:3-4 (GNT)
Paul and other early church leaders encouraged giving to the poor as a sign that Christian faith and love was alive and active (Rom 12:9-13; 2 Cor 8:1-15; Jas 1:17,18; 2:14-17).
Through giving to and honoring others, we have countless opportunities to continue to the church’s history of mercy and justice.
Please encourage us by sharing your experience of showing “hesed” to others.