What is it exactly? What does it mean? It's clearly really important, but I could never really put it into words. Maybe I still can't, but I'm working on it--and working to increase my mercy for others.
I'll start with this quote from www.lds.org:
"Mercy is the compassionate treatment of a person greater than what is deserved, and it is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Our Heavenly Father knows our weaknesses and sins. He shows mercy when He forgives us of our sins and helps us return to dwell in His presence.""...compassionate treatment of a person greater than what is deserved..." seems amazing, right? As I searched, I found more than 500 instances of the word "mercy" or "mercies" throughout the scriptures, the perhaps most well-known of which is from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:7:
"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy."After reading more about mercy, I really have a desire to "obtain mercy" not only for myself, but for everyone I know. Just read this from a Pres. Thomas S. Monson talk on mercy and see if you don't feel the same:
“I believe that his juridical concept of his dealings with his children could be expressed in this way: I believe that in his justice and mercy, he will give us the maximum reward for our acts, give us all that he can give, and in the reverse, I believe that he will impose upon us the minimum penalty which it is possible for him to impose.”~President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.Adding to this unfathomable image of mercy is this from Joseph Smith (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 257):
"Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive."What I can gather from all of this, is that mercy is a major part of the Atonement. There has to be justice, but there also has to be mercy, otherwise we would all be lost. Our Savior Jesus Christ literally "saves" us from the limits of justice through His boundless mercy. Isn't that truly a beautiful message of hope? Lloyd D. Newell states, "We can be forgiven, we can change, and we can progress as we press forward by holding on to Christ, whose mercy is the source and substance of hope." (The Gospel of Second Chances, 66).
Because of mercy, I think we all have more than just a "chance" to return home to our Father in heaven. I think He knows our hearts and will be compassionate and gracious in His mercies He extends to all who desire it.
David A. Bednar suggests this--speaking of "tender mercies":
"...the Lord’s tender mercies do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Faithfulness, obedience, and humility invite tender mercies into our lives, and it is often the Lord’s timing that enables us to recognize and treasure these important blessings.
"We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord’s tender mercies. The simpleness, the sweetness, and the constancy of the tender mercies of the Lord will do much to fortify and protect us in the troubled times in which we do now and will yet live. When words cannot provide the solace we need or express the joy we feel, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable, when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding about the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and evaluation are insufficient to produce a desired outcome, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord and made mighty even unto the power of deliverance."We need to do our best, try our hardest, work toward Salvation and help others to do the same. But as we do this, and we strive to become more like the Savior and extend mercy to others in our life, the same will be given to us. I don't really know that we would be willing to accept mercy if we weren't striving for it in the first place. Nonetheless, mercy is there for each of us. He is waiting and wanting to be merciful to us all. He wants to help us in our darkest hour; He wants us to rely on Him. He wants to run to us and save us.
I love this song by Amy Grant (though the version I love better is by Mercy River, but they're not on Youtube with it). Think of mercy pertaining to these lyrics--God sometimes loves for us to need him, better than he loves our shouts of praise. He loves for one of His lost sheep to return to the fold.
© Wendy 2013