Our worship of God in giving Him honor is demonstrated by our willingness to show “mercy to the poor.”
He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor. (Proverbs 14:31)
In order to help us show mercy to others, God brings us into a place where we also experience want and need mercy extended to us.
But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. (Matthew 18:25-27)
God “chops us down to size” in order to break us of our pride in what we can do and what we have gotten as opposed to others who aren’t as smart or together as we are.
Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity. (Daniel 4:27)
Proud men are more than glad to go without God’s help. As long as things are going well they see no need to pray.
Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?
Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes.
Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.
Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; their cow calveth, and casteth not her calf.
They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance.
They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.
They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave.
Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.
What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him? (Job 21:7-15)
Only the “redeemed of the Lord” can thank God for His goodness and extol Him for the mercy they received when they cried out to Him.
O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;
And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.
They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.
Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.
Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. (Psalm 107:1-9)
God engineers circumstances where our physical welfare is “up in the air” and even after we have done all we know to do to get to a “safe haven” there is still no clear resolution and we are at our “wit’s end.”
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.
Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (Ps. 107:23-31)
Those who have tasted and seen the Lord’s goodness towards them are called to wait and trust in Him as they expect His continuing mercies.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.
Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee. (Psalm 33:18-22)
God expects those who have already received great mercy to be those who show great mercy toward others.
But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? (Matthew 18:28-33)
We are not only to do to others as we would have them do to us; we are to do to others as God has done to us.
God expects us to remember the pit He dug us out of and to have pity on others who we see in the same predicament.
Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)
Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.
If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry;
And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. (Exodus 22:21-24)
God calls us to a sensitivity to the plight of others.
If we disregard their condition, the Lord says He will reward us “according to our works.”
If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;
If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works? (Proverbs 24:11,12)
It is a mark of righteousness to consider the plight of the poor and needy.
It is a mark of wickedness to be calloused and oblivious.
The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it. (Proverbs 29:7)
God does not help those who help themselves, He helps those who help others.
Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.
The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness. (Psalm 41:1-3)
Our good and merciful involvement in the lives of others insures God’s involvement in our life.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7)
Our experience of receiving mercy from God will be tied to our experience of being merciful toward others.
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed. (Psalm 37:25,26)
Both Old and New Testament scripture establish a clear connection between God responding with continuing mercy to us only as we are responsive to others and willing to show them mercy.
God’s willingness to hear our cry is related to our willingness to hear the cries of others.
God’s unwillingness to hear our cry is related to our unwillingness to hear the cries of others.
Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. (Proverbs 21:13)
The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous. (Proverbs 15:29)
And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1:15-17)
When our prayer is “turned away” and not heard we do not receive God’s mercy (i.e., His assistance to us)
But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me. (Psalm 66:19,20)
Israel wondered in Isaiah’s day why their prayers were not being answered.
Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? (Isaiah 58:1)
The Lord told them He would answer their prayers if they would stop oppressing each other and start showing each other mercy.
Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.
Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. (Isaiah 58:6-11)
Job’s friends told him that his plight and torment were due to his failure to care for the poor and needy.
Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?
For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing.
Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry.
But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; and the honourable man dwelt in it.
Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken.
Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee (Job 22:5-10)
Job rebutted their diagnosis, stating if that was the case, he deserved terror and God’s remoteness (i.e., “highness.”)
If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail;
Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof;
(For from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, and I have guided her from my mother’s womb;)
If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering;
If his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep;
If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate:
Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone.
For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure. (Job 31:16-23)
We need the comfort of the knowledge that God is watching over us and caring us. Even if presently no help appears, we need to know that help is on the way and that God will not leave us in any dire situation. Until help and resolution to our problem arrives we need a peace that passes understanding through prayer.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5-7)
It is an awful thing to be unsure of our welfare, especially when we are unsure about God’s help.
And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:
And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:
In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see. (Deut. 28:65-67)
John directly ties confidence before God in prayer to being merciful toward others.
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. (1 John 3:16-23)
To have boldness before God we must merciful even as He is merciful while we are in this world.
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4:17-21)
God reserves “judgment without mercy” for those who showed “no mercy” to others, those who have not backed up their faith with works.
For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:13-18)
Only to the degree (“measure”) that we show mercy to others, should we expect to receive mercy from God and men.
Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:36-38)