We read about mercy a lot in the Bible, but what does it actually mean?

For us in respect to God and in respect to others:

Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines mercy as, “compassion for the miserable”

Holman’s Bible Dictionary further explains that mercy is, “care for the needs of others. The biblical concept of mercy always involves help to those who are in need or distress.”

Another way of understanding mercy is to see its relationship to justice and grace

Justice is when we get what we deserve

Mercy is when we don’t get what we deserve

Grace is when we get something good that we don’t deserve

If it wasn’t for God’s mercy, we would be judged guilty of being sinners and get what we deserve – i.e. eternity in Hell

And by His grace, we are offered the free gift of salvation – i.e. eternity in Heaven

Scripture tells us that “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13)

The “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 2:10) who is Satan constantly brings us
before the Judge (God the Father) to point out our sin, of which we are guilty

However, Jesus intervenes and says that He died for those sins so that we might be justified (i.e. made right with God) and pardoned from the judgment those sins would have brought

Scripture further tells us that God is “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4)

And, there are 41 Bible verses to remind us that God’s mercy “endures forever”

As long as we accept Jesus as our Savior, this mercy is available to us without doubt or question – the “sure mercies of David” (Acts 13:34)

Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you — the sure mercies of David. (Isaiah 55:3)

Jesus is the heir of David’s throne, the Kingship that will last forever (2Samuel 7:16)

Scripture also tells us that we can go boldly before God to receive this mercy:

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy.
(Hebrews 4:16)

At the end of the parable about the Good Samaritan , Jesus explains that only the Samaritan was merciful:

So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves? And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:30-37)

Jesus is calling upon each of us to extend the same mercy to others as He gives to us:

But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. (Matthew 12:7)

Showing mercy to others is the hallmark of being a Christian:

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

In fact, we cannot receive mercy unless we extend mercy to others!

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

The Bible indicates that mercy is just as important as truth:

Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3)

All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth. (Psalm 25:10)

Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. (Psalm 85:10)