8. Merciful

  1. Being a Christian in work is being merciful. Following Jesus Christ in our work means being merciful because Jesus is the Gift of Mercy. God’s mercy is made visible through Jesus’ death. By God’s mercy we can live; He gives us His mercy.267 From the Holy Spirit we the heart, wisdom, and strength to work mercifully.
  2. Working mercifully means judging leniently. Judging leniently means not paying attention to every little problem, or not magnifying the mistakes and failures of others, or not condemning their misdeeds outright. If we know our own sins, then we are lenient towards the sins of others. We know from experience how hard it is to do good and how easy it is to do bad. Every time we judge another in our work, God judges it. Every time we judge another too harshly, God condemns it.
  3. Working mercifully means not condemning another. It is up to God to condemn people. We can only condemn their behavior, but only when there is irrefutable evidence, and we actually have a right to speak. Whoever unjustly condemns the behavior of another, condemns his own behavior.
  4. Working mercifully means never cursing anyone or their behavior. It is only up to God to do this. Even if we were God’s representatives or have the authority to dismiss, punish, or censure someone at work, still we do not have the right to curse or damn anyone. Only God can deny anyone access to heaven.
  5. Working mercifully means confessing our sins to one another. Confessing to each other in our work allows us to forgive each other’s mistakes and strengthen the relationship between us.268
  6. Working mercifully means punishing mildly. We punish mercilessly when we punish unfeelingly, without regard to the person and the circumstances. Every person is sinful; no one is virtuous. God does not punish us according to our sins. Those who are harsh have their hearts in the wrong place.
  7. Working mercifully means seeing every injustice done to us at work as an opportunity to show our forgiveness. Without injustice, we cannot show our forgiveness. The greater the injustice, the greaterthe forgiveness we can show.
  8. Working mercifully means forgiving each other’s sins.269 If God wants to forgive our sins, why shouldn’t we, in our work, forgive other people’s sins? If we cannot forgive each other’s sins, then why do we expect God to forgive ours?270
  9. Working mercifully means forgiving each other’s sins forever. This means we do not harp on it or continue blaming. God doesn’t do that with our sins either; He washes away our sins. For God, once it is forgiven, it is eternally forgiven.271
  10. Working mercifully means giving people what they have not earned. Mercy is not only not giving what others deserve but also giving what others do not deserve. By God’s grace we receive blessings that we have not earned. Therefore, to work mercifully is not just to punish less or not punish at all when it is deserved.
  11. Working mercifully means answering evil with good. Whoever in their work retaliates evil with evil makes things from bad to worse and plays into the hands of the devil. Mercy, however, negates evil. We can counteract evil by doing what is eminently good, by sacrificing ourselves. This way we follow Jesus. The cross Jesus bore is God’s mercy because Jesus is not the sinner but the One who makes the sacrifice. Therefore, we make a sacrifice when we don’t make someone who wronged us pay but instead, we waive the damage and harm. We make a sacrifice when we don’t break the relationship with someone who has abused us but instead, we intensify it; and when we forgive someone without a quid pro quo. God’s grace includes all the good that God wants to give, without anything in return.
  12. Working mercifully means offering God’s mercy. In the face of injustice done to us, we need not explode in wrath and revenge,272 because injustice provides opportunities to extend the mercy of Christ. Forgiveness in our work not only provides forgiveness of evil but also provides the best response to evil, which is love, God’s love.
  13. Working mercifully means giving offenders another chance. By not taking immediate action against transgressors, we give them time and opportunity to repent themselves. God gives us a lifetime of repeated opportunities to repent our sins. So why should we give an offender no more than a second chance?
  14. Working mercifully does not mean that we condone all sins. By acting against sins, we show where the line is drawn. God does not condone our sins either. He punishes those who are not in Christ and rebukes those who are.273
  15. Working mercifully means we are willing to take responsibility for the failures of others. Jesus even took full responsibility of all our failures.
  16. Working mercifully means working mercifully with everyone in our work. God is not constrained in bestowing grace. With God, grace abounds. His grace is available to all people of all times. Therefore, the grace or mercy we show should not be time-bound or exclusive.
  17. Working mercifully means God’s mercy motivates us in our work. Our life and work are purely out of mercy. God’s mercy, His inexhaustible source of endless goodness, is our motivation to unceasingly do good works.
  18. Working mercifully means accepting ourselves in our work. Because God accepts us, we may accept ourselves.274 We don’t have to feel inferior or disdainful of oneself. God loves each of us; He believes in us and values us. He accepts us in our faith, and He accepts our works that come from our faith, however imperfect we and our works may be. Therefore, God is the solution when we experience inferiority complex, burnout, or depression.

  1. John 1:14-17, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 2:5
  2. James 5:16
  3. Matthew 18:21, Mark 11:25-26, Luke 17:3-4
  1. Matthew 6:12, Matthew 6:14-15
  2. Micah 7:19
  3. James 1:19
  1. Romans 8:1, Hebrews 12:7-11
  2. Psalm 139:14, Ecclesiastes 5:18-19, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 5:29

Questions

  1. Which Bible verse about mercifulness do I find particularly appealing and provides guidance for working mercifully means (to me)?
  2. To what extent do I agree with the above summary of what working mercifully means?
  3. Are there any missing elements in the above list of what working mercifully means? If so, which ones?
  4. How would I personally describe what working mercifully means for Christians?
  5. How would I describe concretely what working mercifully means for me?
  6. To what extent do I subscribe to the idea that mercifulness is an important characteristic/virtue for Christians in their work?
  7. To what extent do I subscribe to the idea that mercifulness is an important guideline/principle for the behavior of Christians in their work?
  8. To what extent is mercifulness an important virtue and principle for me in my work?
  9. How do I experience the importance of mercifulness in my work?
  10. Do I work to bring about mercy? Do I do so wholeheartedly?
  11. To what extent can I work mercifully in my work?
  12. How often have I recently brought mercy to my work?
  13. How mercifully do I do my work? How does it show?
  14. To what extent do I use mercifulness as a principle for my behavior in my work? Could I illustrate this using the decisions I have recently made in my work?
  15. When I look back at my working life, could I say that I have increasingly become more merciful in my behavior?
  16. To what extent do people I work with think I act mercifully in my work? What have they said to me about this?
  17. To what extent do I think God thinks I act mercifully in my work?
  18. How can I become and act more mercifully in my work? How would I do this concretely?
  19. Which elements of working mercifully am I going to bring more of in my next working day?
  20. What am I going to say in a prayer to God about working mercifully?
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