Those who are merciful will receive mercy in return.
Those who are not merciful will be judged by the Lord without mercy; he is merciful and expects us to be like him.
Mercy is one of the gifts mentioned in Romans 12 - and we are supposed to show it with cheerfulness.
Thinking on all of these things over the last several weeks ... months ... years ... this morning I was listening to Luke, and in chapter 10 we have the account of the sneaky lawyer who asked the Messiah what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Christ responded with the question, "What does the law say?" Of course the lawyer knew and responded correctly:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.
This is nothing new; God has always required this of man, and Christ confirms it: "Do this and you will live." Simple. Or is it? Well, it is if your heart is right!!! But, the lawyer's heart was not right. He was trying to justify himself or find some way out or something. His response, "Who is my neighbor?" proves it.
So, who is our neighbor? Christ gives us a very clear example: our neighbors are not just those people we know and care for, they are even strangers and/or enemies.
Christ asks the lawyer point blank: "Which of these 3 men do you think was a neighbor to the stranger?" The priest and the Levite left him in the ditch to die. These men who are supposed to be examples of God and fulfilling God's work here on earth were actually just hypocrites. I'm guessing their followers did not see this though. The Samaritan - a supposed enemy - came by, saw him, cleaned him up, took him to shelter, stayed with him all night, paid the keeper in advance the amount he thought would cover it, but then said he'd pay anything lacking upon his return.
So who was the true neighbor to the stranger? The lawyer responded, "HE WHO SHOWED MERCY ON HIM." You can't hide from that truth. It's right there for all to see ... even the lawyer saw it and had no way around it. Christ returned, "YES - GO AND DO THE SAME."
There you have it. The key to eternal life: be merciful even as our Father in heaven is merciful. This is nothing you can fake or manufacture. It comes straight out of a pure heart that loves the Lord and wants to do what pleases him.