“The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).
There are different words in the Greek New Testament which are translated “Mercy” (or some form of it) in English. The word here is eleos. It refers to “the outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of him who shows it”; “kindness or goodwill towards the miserable and afflicted, joined with the desire to relieve them” (Thayer).
There are two sources of wisdom. One is from above (James 3:17). The other is earthly, sensual, demonic (James 3:15-16). The wisdom from above teaches us to be merciful to others.
“Therefore, be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
The original word is derived from oiktirmos. It is defined to mean: “pity, compassion for the ills of others” (Vine’s); “compassion, pity, mercy” (Thayer). There seems to be little difference between this and the previous word.
God is merciful to mankind, even to those that are unthankful and unjust. “He is kind to the thankful and the unthankful” (Luke 6:35). “He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
We are to seek to be helpful to others, even our enemies (Luke 6:35). We are to do good to them and lend to them (Luke 6:35). Are there qualifications and limitations on this? Yes. One has limited resources, and thus has a priority to care for his family, then his extended family, and then his brethren before others (1 Timothy 5:4, 8, 16; Galatians 6:10). Moreover, one should not enable laziness (2 Thessalonians 3:10). However, we should try to show mercy when and where ever possible to those in need.
“‘So which of these three do you think was a neighbor to him who fell among thieves?’ And he said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.‘” (Luke 10:36-37).
The original word is eleos. We have defined it previously.
The context is The Parable of the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan helped the man who had been robbed, wounded, and left half-dead. Jesus told this parable to teach that mercy should be extended even to those in need, even to those of another ethnic group. One should be neighborly to those in need; instead of questioning “who is my neighbor?”.
“Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:12-13).
The original word is derived from oiktirmos. We have defined it previously.
Mercy here is connected with being forbearing and forgiving. We are to forgive “even as Christ forgave.” He is our example. If one meets His conditions for forgiveness who are we to withhold such? Jesus warned, “if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15). It has been said, “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future” (Paul Boese). This is definitely true concerning our relationship with God.
“So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty: For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:12-13).
The original word is eleos. We have defined this previously.
The context concerns partiality based on socio-economic status (James 2:1-4, 8-13). They honored the rich, because they were rich, and dishonored the poor, because they were poor.
We are not to hold The Faith with partiality (James 2:1). The Gospel is for all. We are to value all souls. If we value souls, then we will associate with all kinds of men in order to win some. If we truly accept one as a faithful member of God’s spiritual family, then we should have no problem having brotherly fellowship with him – whether he be rich or poor. Moreover, we should remember: “All man stand on level ground at the foot of the cross” (Johnny Ramsey). This should keep us humble.
God’s people are to care about others. We are to care about those in physical need. We are to care about those in spiritual need. We are to be forbearing and forgiving of others.