There are many reasons why the Spirit gives to us Spiritual Gifts. He does so in order to unite us together into one body. He does so in order to help us care for one another. He also does so to reveal to us the character of Christ. Indeed that is so with the Gift of Mercy.
In Romans 12, we read – ‘… he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.’ (Romans 12:8)
People with the Gift of Mercy have a deep desire to care for those who are afflicted and in need. One resource says – “This gift will be evident in sympathy, understanding, compassion, patience, and sensitivity toward the underprivileged or overanxious.” (Dynamics of Spiritual Gifts, McRae) Those with the Gift of Mercy might be those who regularly visit nursing homes or hospitals. They may be someone who volunteers to care for those with severe illnesses. Or they may be someone in the church, who the needy are often drawn to because they know that this person truly cares.
Many of us are familiar with the ministry of Hospice. Often Hospice is associated with caring for those who are in the last days of their life. The name Hospice comes from the Latin word ‘hospes’ which refers to the ancient ministry of monks and other religious orders who offered places of care for the sick and needy. Their ministry also included care for the aged, the poor and homeless children. Eventually these places of refuge became known as ‘hospitals.’ Throughout the New Testament we find several references of encouragement for God’s people to show hospitality. (Rom 12:13; 1 Tim 3:2, Titus 1:8; Heb 13:2; 1 Pet 4:9) The Greek word translated as hospitality refers to a “love of strangers.” This might include inviting them into your home, or reaching out to those who visit the church.
It is easy to see how the Gift of Mercy exhibits the character of Christ. Who more loved the down and out more than our Savior? The church needs those with the Gift of Mercy. We need them to show us mercy when we are in need, and we need them to remind us that mercy is a part of the nature of God.