by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Grace and mercy
What is mercy? I think perhaps the best way of approaching it is to compare it with grace. The best definition of the two that I have ever encountered is this: ‘Grace is especially associated with men in their sins: mercy is especially associated with men in their misery’ ... while grace looks down upon sin as a whole, mercy looks especially upon the miserable consequences of sin. So that mercy really means a sense of pity plus a desire to relieve the suffering. That is the essential meaning of being merciful; it is pity plus the action. So the Christian has a feeling of pity. His concern about the misery of men and women leads to an anxiety to relieve it ... to have a merciful spirit means the spirit that is displayed when you suddenly find your- self in the position of having in your power someone who has transgressed against you.... Are you going to say, ‘Well now ... this person has transgressed against me; very well, here comes my opportunity’? That is the very antithesis of being merciful.... Or, again, we can describe it as inward sympathy and outward acts in relation to the sorrows and sufferings of others
The great New Testament illustration of being merciful is the parable of the Good Samaritan. On his journey he sees this poor man who has been in the hands of robbers, stops, and goes across the road to where he is lying. The others have seen the man but have gone on. They may have felt compassion and pity yet they have not done anything about it. But here is a man who is merciful; he is sorry for the victim, goes across the road, dresses the wounds, takes the man with him and makes provision for him. That is being merciful. It does not mean only feeling pity; it means a great desire, and indeed an Endeavour, to do something to relieve the situation.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, i, pp. 99–100