Cheerful Readiness

God offers mercy willingly and lavishly, not grudgingly—and we should do the same.

James 2:8-13

Today we conclude our four-part exploration of Romans 12:1-8 by looking at mercy, the last spiritual gift mentioned in Paul’s letter. This one is a bit more descriptive in the English translation: The apostle says that “one who shows mercy” is to do so “with cheerfulness” (v. 8). However, both words he uses here are far richer than the English language can convey.

The word for “showing mercy” is eleeó, which means “to show mercy as God defines it” or “as it accords with His truth.” That is, our goal should be to show mercy as God Himself would—lavishly and without hesitation. The term also conveys the idea of His “covenant loyalty” or “covenant love.” God loves us and shows mercy toward us even when we are unfaithful and disobedient, and even when we break His heart. We are likewise to demonstrate mercy even when people fall short of our expectations or hurt us.

Finally, the word translated as “cheerfulness”—hilarotés—means “not grudging” or “already won over, approving.” We should show mercy without having to be convinced, prodded, or talked into it. Rather, doing so should be our default setting. When we are working in the power of the Holy Spirit, mercy pours from us as effortlessly as water from a tap.