Saturday, December 13, 2008

Spiritual Gifts pt14: Mercy

By Bill Gothard

Who in Scripture best illustrates the motivational gift of mercy?

* John

What guidelines are given for the gift of mercy in Romans 12:15?

* Weep with
* Rejoice with

What basic principle does the one with the gift of mercy most need to exercise?

* Moral freedom

Why is this true?

* It protects the one with the gift of mercy from improper relationships.


* Deeply loyal to friends

A person with the gift of mercy will demonstrate loyalty to a friend by even reacting harshly toward those who attack him. When the Apostle John watched the Samaritans reject Jesus whom he loved, John wanted to call down fire from heaven to consume them. (See Luke 9:54)

* Need for deep friendships

The very nature of a person with the gift of mercy requires close friendships. These friendships, however, must have mutual commitment which is often reaffirmed. John enjoyed such a friendship with Christ. He was not only closer to Christ than most of the other disciples, but he referred to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” (See John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7,20)

* Empathize with hurting people

The gift of mercy enables the one having it to sense which individuals are hurting and to share the pain with them. Along with the pain, a mercy senses the full scope of emotions. John wrote his first epistle to give joy, fellowship, hope, and confidence and to cast out fear and torment. (See 1 John 1:3-4; 3:2-3; 4:18; 5:13-14)

* Decisions based on benefits

Those with the gift of mercy find it hard to be firm because they do not want to offend other people. Therefore, the mercy must see that greater hurt and offenses will occur if he fails to be decisive. When John was faced with denying Jesus, he demonstrated a boldness and decisiveness which caused the Sadducees to marvel. (See Acts 4:13)

* Deeply sensitive to loved ones

The gift of mercy carries with it the ability to sense genuine love. It, therefore, carries a greater vulnerability to deeper and more frequent hurts from those who fail to demonstrate sincere love. John used the word “love” more than any other disciple in his Gospel and epistles.

* Attract people in distress

One with the gift of mercy has a deep understanding of people who are going through mental or emotional distress. This sensitivity causes those with hurts to be drawn to him and to confide in him. When Christ died, he transferred responsibility for his grieving mother to John.

* Desire to remove hurts

Whereas an exhorter will try to help a person find benefit from his hurts, the one with the gift of mercy will try to remove the source of them. The message of John’s first epistle was for Christians to stop hurting and hating each other. (See 1 John 3:11,15)

* Measure acceptance by closeness

A person with the gift of mercy tends to need physical closeness in order to be reassured of acceptance. The closeness includes rich times of fellowship. John sought out the closest place to Christ at the Last Supper and leaned upon the Lord. His need for physical closeness may also have prompted his request to sit next to Christ in glory. (See Mark 10:35-37)

* Attracted to prophets

The statement that opposites attract is certainly true with the motivational gifts. Those with the gift of mercy are attracted to those with the gift of prophecy. The firm truth of the prophet is thus balanced with the gentle love of the mercy. John spent more time with Peter than with any other disciple. (See Luke 22:8; Acts 3:1-11; 4:13-19; 8:14)


* Taking up offenses

The tendency of one with the gift of mercy is to take up an offense for someone who is being hurt by another person, especially if the one being hurt is a friend. Before comfort is given, a prophet should check out what caused the hurt, and an exhorter should give steps for properly responding to it.

* Becoming possessive

The deep need for commitment in a close friendship can cause those with the gift of mercy to monopolize the time and attention of others. As he experiences disappointments in one friendship, the mercy tends to place greater demands on a new friendship.

* Tolerating evil

If those with the gift of mercy do not have spiritual discernment as to why people suffer, they may give sympathy and encouragement to those who are suffering as a direct result of violating God’s moral laws. The one with the gift of mercy can learn discernment by seeing people through the eyes of the other spiritual gifts.

* Failing to be firm

When a person with the gift of mercy is given a position of leadership, he will tend to avoid disciplinary action which is needed. As a result, the person who should have been disciplined is not brought to repentance, prophets react to his leadership, and other “mercies” react to the prophets.

* Leaning on emotions vs. reason

Because those with the gift of mercy have such sensitive feelings, they tend to base their decisions on emotions rather than on principles. Their subjective reasoning can easily case them to reject Biblical doctrines which seem harsh to them.

* Defrauding opposite sex

A person of the opposite sex tends to be drawn to one who has the gift of mercy. This attraction comes about because of the ability of the “mercy” to be a sensitive, understanding, and responsive listener. This factor must be considered in any relationship which a “mercy” has with a person of the opposite sex.

* Reacting to God’s purposes

Unlike exhorters, who look at suffering as a means of receiving more grace and growing spiritually, those with the gift of mercy tend to react to the idea that God would allow a good person to suffer. Unless the person with the gift of mercy maintains a proper perspective, he can easily become bitter toward God.

* Failing to show deference

When a person with the gift of mercy demands physical closeness in a friendship, he may fail to consider the desires of others who need that person’s time and attention. For this reason, John was gently reproved for his request to be next to Jesus in His kingdom.

* Cutting off insensitive people

A person whose words and actions reflect insensitivity to the feelings of other people will be quickly recognized and reacted to by one with the gift of mercy. Rather than trying to help this insensitive person, the “mercy” will tend to close off his spirit and cut off fellowship with him.


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