Nothing stirs God’s heart more than a humble heart and a merciful spirit. God responds to mercy, because it is through compassion that we fully come to know Him. This is the defining quality of a true follower of Christ.
We are never closer to the heart of God than when we are forgiving someone. And we are never farther from it than when we are holding a grudge. Jesus said, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15). Few scriptures give a clearer insight into what God expects from believers. If you don’t forgive, God can’t forgive you.
Some years ago I heard the story of two women who had awakened to find a man robbing their home. One of the women was quick-witted enough to call the police, who were there within a few minutes. Several squad cars screamed up in front of their house, and the police took the young thief away.
While an officer was still at the house getting all the information he needed from the victims and filling out the police report, one of the women asked him what would happen to the young man.
“He’ll be processed and sent to jail,” the policeman informed her.
Even as the officer spoke, the Lord began reminding the woman of a similar incident some months earlier. Her own son had committed a crime and had been picked up by the police. But at the last minute the family took pity on him and forgave him for his crime. Against the judge’s wishes, they refused to press charges, and her son went free.
Then the Lord spoke to her spirit, “I want you to show that same kind of forgiveness.”
There is a sort of compassion and mercy that defies human logic. The world doesn’t understand it, and it seldom brings much reward. Forgiving others when they do us wrong is one of the most difficult things God can ask us to do. But mercy is what He most wants to see from His followers.
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.