How to Show Mercy in an Unkind World


To build a lifestyle of mercy, you’re going to need to make some changes to the words you use and the things you value. Learn what the Bible says about mercy.

“When you talk, you should always be kind and pleasant so you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should.” (Colossians 4:6, NCV)

One of the best ways to be a witness for Jesus in a world that’s becoming more judgmental, selfish, and unforgiving is to show mercy to others.

Yesterday we looked at two things you can do to build a lifestyle of mercy: Start looking and listening for people’s needs, and don’t be offended by the sins of others.

Here are two more ways to show mercy:

Choose your words carefully. If you’re going to show mercy, there are some things you just can’t say. You can’t be rude or sarcastic. Mercy puts a monitor on your mouth and helps you choose words that build people up instead of tearing them down.

Colossians 4:6 says, “When you talk, you should always be kind and pleasant so you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should” (NCV).

Maybe you grew up in a family where it was common to put each other down, and now you’ve developed the same pattern in your own life. How do you break that habit? Ask God for wisdom because “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy” (James 3:17 ESV).

The wiser you become, the more merciful you’ll be to the people around you—no matter how much they disagree with you or dislike you. That’s because the more you understand the hurts of other people, the more likely you are to cut them slack and show them mercy.

Value saving people over keeping rules. Jesus modeled this over and over. A good example is found in the book of Matthew. Jesus says this to the legalistic Pharisees: “You are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things” (Matthew 23:23 NLT).

Jesus didn’t like how the Pharisees prioritized tithing over more important things, such as treating people fairly, showing mercy, and having faith. He wants us to “not neglect the more important things” too. He would rather see our kindness break through to others so that, one day, they will give their lives to him. Jesus is more interested in kingdom building than in rule following. 

Every time you show mercy, that’s your greatest Christian witness to the world.

Talk It Over

When you were a child, how did your family model mercy with their words? How did they not model mercy with their words?

What situation do you anticipate being in this week that will require you to extend mercy?

Have you ever struggled to show mercy to someone, but when you learned about their past, showing mercy became easier? Why was that?

This devotional © 2022 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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