The spiritual gift of mercy – What is it?
All Christians are called to be merciful (Matthew 5:7), yet some are gifted in mercy. Romans 12:6-8 mentions the gift of mercy: "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: … the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness." What is the gift of mercy?
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Mercy involves the idea of showing compassion. Those with the gift of mercy are likely those who feel compelled to serve in compassion-oriented ministry. This can include many forms, ranging from serving widows and orphans, to assisting the homeless, to helping those with addictions or disabilities. While the expression of showing mercy can vary, the Bible's focus is upon those with the gift of mercy expressing it "with cheerfulness."
This is likely mentioned because those involved in mercy-related efforts can be easily discouraged. Though such individuals are drawn to helping those in difficult situations, it is also easy to become disappointed with the outcome of serving those in great need.
For example, when someone relapses into an addiction, those who have helped the person often feel like they have failed in some way. Because showing mercy also often involves helping those who are suffering or sick, discouragement can take a toll due to the inevitable pain or death that will result in the lives of some of those served.
Certain biblical passages also serve as important encouragements to those with the gift of mercy. The Good Samaritan is a classic example that shows the calling for Christians to stop and be a good neighbor to those in need regardless of circumstances (Luke 10:25-37).
Serving "the least of these" as mentioned in Matthew 25:31-46 is also an important passage regarding mercy. The Lord says, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me" (vv. 35-36). Such service is seen as service to the Lord: "As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (v. 40).
Every Christian is called to show mercy, yet some are especially gifted in this area. Those gifted in mercy are called to serve with "cheerfulness," not becoming discouraged when progress seems lacking, knowing that their work is ultimately service to God.
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