I recently began studying more on the topic of mercy, specifically in reference to Micah 6:8.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

The topic is daunting, as a word search for “mercy” yields well over 200 instances in the Bible.

The two main Greek words for mercy used in the New Testament are eleos, which according to Strongs Bible Concordance means “of uncertain affinity; compassion (human or divine, especially active),” and eleeo, which means, “to compassionate (by word or deed, specially, by divine grace).”

The Merriam Webster definition of mercy is:
1 a : compassion or forbearance  shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power;
b : imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder
2 a : a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion
b : a fortunate circumstance
3 : compassionate treatment of those in distress

I’ve always loved this verse in Micah because it is worded so simply, and yet the concepts will keep us busy our whole lives. The thing that jumped out to me in this study was the phrase, “love mercy.”  For the first time I actually questioned myself, “Do I love mercy?” I think it’s important to focus on the use of the word LOVE in this verse, rather than “have” or “show.” We aren’t just being told to be merciful; we are told to LOVE mercy. We should not just show active compassion, but we should love doing so. This reminds me of Matthew 25 when Jesus illustrates those separated on the right and left hand at judgement. Those found pleasing to Him were those who gave food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, hospitality to the stranger, clothes to the naked,  and visitation to the sick and imprisoned. Once again, it’s a simple list but it will keep you busy your whole life. Sometimes it is really hard to show mercy to people who have wronged us or who are just plain unlikable. But the commandment is there, and there will always be people who need our mercy. So what is holding us back? Maybe we need to love mercy more. I think we have no problem loving mercy when we are receiving it, but a harder time in loving mercy when we are called upon to give it.

It isn’t new or surprising that mercy is in short supply on this earth. In Ecclesiastes 5:8 we’re told, “If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter.” It isn’t shocking that the rich oppress the poor and that justice and righteousness are disregarded, but just because something is commonplace and has gone on since the beginning of time doesn’t mean we should accept it and participate in it. “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.'” Zechariah 7:9-10. The world is an unjust and unmerciful place, but we are called to be different. Let’s read that passage in Zechariah one more time – true justice includes mercy and compassion. It’s amazing how just like in everything else in the Bible, it all points back to love (I Corinthians 13:1-3).

“Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” 
Matthew 9: 10-13 (reference to Hosea 6:6)

It’s important to note how often the references about mercy are talking about showing mercy to those who aren’t easy to love. The poor, the prisoner, the foreigner, the sinner: people who may need more than what we want to give. Mercy isn’t just showing kindness to people when it’s easy. The point seems to be that true mercy is showing compassion when it’s hard and when it requires sacrifice. True mercy is an act of submission and trust in God, and a show of our deep love and respect for Him and the mercy that He has shown us.

Thank God for His amazing mercy! I pray that I will learn to love mercy as He does.