When we as believers see ourselves as we really are, when we have mourned over our condition, when we have walked in meekness before God and have hungered and thirsted for righteousness, then it will produce mercy in us. We will be more merciful, because we recognize how much mercy has been extended to us.
Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7). In the culture of Jesus' day, mercy was not held in high regard. In fact, the Romans did not care for mercy at all. They saw it as a weakness, not a virtue. One Roman philosopher called mercy "a disease of the soul." The Romans glorified justice and courage and discipline and power. They didn't value mercy in their culture, and we don't value it in ours, either.
Yet Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful. . . . " Mercy is something we do, not just something we feel. It means to help a person in need, to rescue the miserable. Mercy means a sense of pity, plus a desire to relieve the suffering. Simply saying, "I feel your pain" is not mercy. Mercy is meeting the need, not just feeling it. Real mercy is pity plus action.
The more righteous a person is, the more merciful he or she will be. And the more sinful a person is, the more harsh and critical he or she will be. Sometimes we think people who are quick to condemn are very spiritual. But it is actually quite the opposite. When you truly are a spiritual person, when you truly are a godly man or woman, then you will be a merciful person—not a critical or condemning one.
Taken from "The Virtue of Mercy" by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).