Q & A With Sister Swaggart - VII
Is God really merciful to people?
Yes. In fact, the Lord proclaims Himself as merciful. In Exodus 34, Moses stands in the cleft of the rock, exactly where the Lord told him to stand. “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Ex. 34:6). How grateful we are that the first word God uses here to describe Himself is merciful.
The Lord Himself lays down the rules as to how and to whom mercy is shown. The last thing any person wants to do is demand justice from God. We want mercy and compassion, but we must understand that none is due us, and the moment we think so is the moment we nullify these attributes. Romans 9:16 says, “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”
One receives mercy and compassion from God by admitting that he does not deserve any, but rather the very opposite. He does not present to God any of his so-called accomplishments or qualities. Remember the publican who Jesus said stood afar off and “would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).
In God’s dealings with man, He purposely chose grace as His vehicle of communication. Grace has to be a choice, or it is not grace. However, once grace was chosen, then mercy—a natural product of grace—became a guarantee.
Sometimes, believers feel they are not being treated fairly by the Lord when, in reality, if we received what we justly deserved, our situation would be far worse. Irrespective of our failures, His dealings with us are always with mercy and compassion, which means that we are not chastised as severely as we ought to be. David said, “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them who fear him” (Ps. 103:10-11).
The genesis of salvation is declared to be in two of God’s attributes, the first being mercy, or compassion. God has a tender yearning toward men who are brought to misery by their own sins. His mercy is immeasurable and endures forever:
We have believers today demanding justice instead of asking for mercy. Why is that? None of us deserve the mercy of God, but all of us—from kings to blind beggars—need it.
- “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. “They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23).
- “Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.” (Ps. 116:5)
- “O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever” (Ps. 136:26).
- “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us” (Eph. 2:4).
Psalm 51 opens with David’s repentant plea: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.”
Bible scholar Albert Barnes says of this verse: “Have mercy upon me, O God” is the utterance of a full heart; a heart crushed and broken by the consciousness of sin. The psalmist had been made to see his great guilt; and his first act is to cry out for mercy. The only hope of a sinner when crushed with the consciousness of sin is the mercy of God; and the plea for that mercy will be urged in the most earnest and impassioned language that the mind can employ.”
One of the most requested songs for my husband is Mercy Rewrote My Life. Part of the lyrics say this:
My mistakes that day, He turned into miracles,
My tears He turned into joy,
My past sins were forgiven, and a new name was written,
Mercy rewrote my life.
Mercy rewrote my life,
Mercy rewrote my life,
I could have fallen my soul cast way down,
But mercy rewrote my life.
Mercy was central to the prophecy Zacharias utters in Luke 1 regarding the Messiah: “To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant” (Luke 1:72). This proclaimed Jesus as the bearer of that mercy. Jesus is mercy, praise God! From that same passage: “Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us” (Luke 1:78). This reveals that the sending of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, was strictly an act of mercy, and tender mercy at that.
That’s why, when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, blind Bartimaeus cried out, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me” (Luke 18:38). He asked because he had heard that Jesus was merciful, and Bartimaeus knew that Christ placed no distinction between rich or poor, old or young, beautiful or beggar.
In Matthew 9:27, two blind men followed Jesus crying out after Him, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on us.” That simple statement—have mercy on us—is a request the Lord will always answer.
Men do not need justice, they need mercy. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). This means that God strongly desires to show mercy and grace to all who come to Him. As someone has said, “Mercy is God’s disposition toward sinful men, but love is His motive in all that He does for them.”
The mercy of God is really beyond our comprehension because it is new every morning, always before us, and also behind us, following the believer all the days of his life (Ps. 23:6). All we can do is praise Him and thank Him for it.
“I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations” (Ps. 89:1).