But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth. Psalm 86:15 NASB
As can be read above, one of the main attributes of our God is his mercy. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the word “mercy” describes a “kindness that makes you forgive someone, usually someone that you have authority over“. This is excactly what the mercy of God does. It forgives our sins and allows us to get back onto our feet. Or, more precisely:
In the Bible, God’s mercy means His pity, compassion, and kindness toward people. His mercy shows up in the believer’s life at salvation, and then God continues to show mercy in forgiveness. Mercy triumphs over judgment but refusing God’s mercy is disastrous. Dawn Wilson, What Is Mercy? Why Is It important?
I would like to show you that and how God’s mercy can be seen throughout the whole Bible. Added to that, I’d also like to share how this mercy affected my life and fundamentally changed who I am.
The Mercy of God In The Old Covenant
Although many see “the God of the Old Testament” (who is no different from the New Testament God) as brutal, He was actually very merciful back then. Many Psalms, prophets and even the book of Lamentations speak about this mercy of God. Daniel for example called upon the Lord when the Israelites were in exile. He said,
O Lord, we and our kings, princes, and ancestors are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. Daniel 9:8-9 NLT
Daniel didn’t just beg God to have mercy like criminals might do it in a court room. Instead, he knew that God is merciful even though they had committed one sin after the other. This truth was given to them by the Lord himself who told Jeremiah,
“Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say,
‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord;
‘I will not look upon you in anger.
For I am gracious,’ declares the Lord;
‘I will not be angry forever.'” Jeremiah 3:12 NASB
Thus, the mercy of God can be seen when we return to him. Another great example for that is the book of Jonah. When the prophet was commanded to go to Nineveh, he first ran into the other direction. God however got him to turn around and warn the people of Nineveh of their coming destruction. Well, when the people repented and God didn’t destroy them, Jonah became upset.
So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Jonah 4:2 NKJV
So you see, even in the Old Testament, God’s mercy was well known and so great that it sometimes upset his prophets whose prophecies wouldn’t become true because of that.
The Mercy of God In The New Covenant
In the New Testament, which describes the new covenant, the mercy of God is even more evident and it applies directly to us. Therefore, I’d like to give you two testimonies about experiences with this great mercy of our God.
Peter Experiences God’s mercy
The first testimony is the one of Peter who denied Jesus although the Lord had said,
“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:33 NLT
The weight of this statement becomes apparent when you realize that those whom Jesus denies before the Father will not be saved, because
“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5 NKJV
And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15 NKJV
Now, Peter didn’t just deny Jesus once, he denied him three times in one night. Jesus had predicted this and when it happened
The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. Luke 22:61-62 NKJV
Peter’s weeping shows his deep distress about the sin he had committed. As a result, the Lord forgave him and didn’t disown him before the Father. This became evident when the disciples encountered the risen Lord on the seashore and ate breakfast with him.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” John 21:15 ESV
God gave Peter the responsibility to care for his sheep even though he had previously denied the Lord. This was a great act of mercy and should serve as an example for us.
My Experiences With God’s Mercy
Before I was born again, I had broken pretty much every single one of the Ten Commandments. I had used God’s name in vain, made up my own god, dishonored my parents, hated and lusted for people which equals murder (1 John 3:15) and adultery (Matthew 5:27-28), stolen something, lied and covetted things that weren’t mine. Now, since breaking one law is enough to be sent to hell, there is no question about where I would have ended up.
Nevertheless, when I was at my lowest, God reached down and made his good news known to me. Once I realized the danger I was in, repented and trusted in Jesus alone, I found myself Being Born Again. I had become a completely new person with a new heart. However, it took me a while to realize that I was fully forgiven. I just couldn’t understand how God can be so good and merciful as to forgive a terrible sinner like me!
If you don’t understand this either, you might want to read about how We Are Forgiven Through the Blood of Christ!
Well, the realization about my forgiveness came through the song “Forgiven” by Skillet. When I heard that song, I felt God’s love surround my heart and knew that my life had been washed clean. Thinking about this great mercy of God still leaves me in awe — especially, because saving me was not everything He did! Just like anyone else, I too stumbled over and over again. And every single time, God has forgiven me once I came crawling to him in repentance!
How You Can Experience God’s Mercy
My testimony shows that God’s mercy is neither just for the people in the Bible nor only for pious people. No, it is available for everyone, from the least to the greatest! That means, that you can experience it, too. First, you have to realize how much of a sinner you are though. The awareness of your sins and the knowledge of hell will show you how desperately you need a divine Savior. We cannot save ourselves, because
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6 NIV
Once you realized that, humble yourself and turn to God in repentance, He will save you. Jesus paid the fine for your sins when He died on the cross, thus
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NKJV
Through Jesus’ sacrifice, God can be just and merciful the same time. Now, if you haven’t done it yet, please put your trust in Jesus rather than in yourself and turn from your sins. If you do this, God will have mercy on you and grant you everlasting life! And please don’t think of yourself as unworthy, because none of us is worthy. Yet, God still wants to show all of us his love through mercy and grace which He declared through Paul who wrote,
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21 ESV