By Gerald Cowan
The Lord desires mercy not sacrifice (Mt. 9:13) and promises mercy only to the merciful (Mt. 5:7, James 2:13). We should make sure that we can hope for mercy from Him in the judgment. Well-meaning people actually fail to show mercy, without intending it and without even knowing it. Here are a few subtle failures to consider and avoid.
1. Failure to teach and preach the gospel, whether by staying silent or by teaching something other than the gospel is not mercy. Yes, you talk about the loving God and the love of the Savior, Jesus Christ, but you do not preach the truth about righteousness, temperance, and the judgment that is coming (Acts 24:25). Yes, there are people who do not want to hear it and will not listen when it is presented. Perhaps you do not want to disturb them, or hurt their feelings – maybe you are afraid they may hurt you in some way. So you just leave it out. That is not mercy on your part. It can actually be murder, spiritual murder. Perhaps it could be called assisted spiritual suicide – you become an accessory after the fact when they kill their own souls. God may require their blood at your hand if you refuse to tell them and warn them (Rom. 10:12-15, Acts 20:26).
2. Failure to discipline the unruly and failure to require continued obedience to the gospel is not mercy. Approving, accepting, or even tolerating the unfaithfulness of Christians is not mercy. Yes, they are Christians. But that is not all that matters to God. The unfaithful and disorderly are to be warned and, if they cannot be converted, set aside and denied fellowship (2 Thess. 2:15 and 3:14, Jude 21-23). Failure to confront them and rebuke them when necessary is not mercy. It is indifference, lack of concern, lack of love.
3. A trip to the moon or outer space at the expense of the poor, hungry, sick, and ignorant is not mercy, no matter what scientific gains may supposedly come to mankind from it. It is inhumanity
4. Capitalizing on the superstition of people and promising blessings to those whose resources are used to build something supposedly for the possession and glory of God is not mercy – it brings no blessing to the people. At best it is exploitation. At worst it is extortion. But it cannot be called mercy.
5. Waging war is the most expensive thing any nation engages in. Why not rather use the money to promote and share the gospel of peace in Jesus Christ. To convert your enemies to Christ and then to share peace with them in his kingdom is mercy. Try to avoid killing and destroying whenever possible. That would be an act of mercy, but it is nearly impossible to find mercy in military warfare. Choosing war when it is not necessary is not mercy. It is aggression.
6. Not caring about and therefore not ministering to the social needs of people is not mercy. It is hypocrisy. How can one claim to love the unseen God when he cannot love and minister to the people he can see? (1 John 3:17, 4:20).
7. Accepting those who are like yourself, sharing race or ethnicity, social or economic status, philosophy, or even sectarian religion and excluding all others is not mercy. It is prejudice. Prejudice and partiality even in patriotism can never be approved by God (1 Tim. 5:21, Acts 10:34-35).
- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com