This is #21 in a series of blogs by PJ on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. This blog deals with the gift of mercy.
The gift of mercy is the special ability that God gives to certain people to feel empathy and compassion for individuals who are in some kind of distress, and the ability to translate that compassion into cheerfully done deeds which reflect Christ’s love and alleviate the suffering. This gift is particularly on display through people who are happily and consistently involved in ministering to people in desperate situations. It often fuels other gifts such as the gift of healing.
Examples in scripture
• Mt 20:29-34: Jesus exhibited this gift when healing the two blind men.
• Lk 10: The Good Samaritan clearly had this gift.
• Acts 6: The early church carefully selecting people to be involved with caring for widows and orphans.
Characteristics of people with this gift
They are sensitive to peoples’ needs and situations. They have a special attraction to, and understanding of, people in distress.
Misunderstandings / Potential Weaknesses
• They are often non-confrontational and poor at saying ‘no’ and maintaining boundaries.
• They can become a bit intense – always asking how you really are! Ironically, they often struggle to be vulnerable and open to others caring for them.
• They sometimes appear to be guided by emotion rather than logic. Due to the pressured context of ministry to especially needy groups, and due to their selfless attitude, people with this gift need others to help them channel their compassion. They must work in team and remain accountable. This will safeguard them from burn-out, depression and poor delegation.
• They are prone to getting depressed, which is maybe why Romans 12:8 exhorts them to minister “with cheerfulness” rather than getting too sucked into the problems of those that they are serving.
• They can also get critical of others who are not gifted or interested in the same situations that they are.