Freedom’s Sidekick: Mercy

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17

Mercy is one of the first things to go.

I realize that about myself.  I’m not proud of it.

When I’m stressed—physically, emotionally, whatever—my tolerance of minor annoyances decreases drastically.

I found myself talking back to the radio as I was getting ready for the day: “How about playing some MUSIC instead of all that chit-chat???”

I knew I was in need of much mercy.

And was giving little.

Later that day I heard Romans 1:31 read aloud—a list of things we want to avoid—and one phrase in particular landed on me:

having no mercy.

Having no mercy.

Was that me?

I moved on to James 2:13:

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.


I looked up the Greek word for mercy, Strong’s 1656, eleos. And immediately noticed the word that followed it, Strong’s 1657, eleutheria, meaning freedom.

Mercy. Freedom.
Side by side.

Was there a stronger connection between the two words besides Greek alphabetical order?


While judgment is bound up in law, mercy is released in freedom.

Freedom allows opportunity.  And through those opportunities, we love.

My friends, you were chosen to be free. So don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love.
Galatians 5:13 (CEV)

When I’m bound, tied up by my own anxieties and worries, I’m not free to show grace to others.

I’m not free to give mercy.

I’m simply, well, not free.

But when I embrace my freedom—because of mercy that has been freely delivered to me through the Spirit of the Lord—I can give grace again.

That is freedom.

And in freedom, mercy is never the first thing to go.

Mercy never leaves at all.


revised from the archives

25 thoughts on “Freedom’s Sidekick: Mercy

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      My merciless-self needs to go to God in confession often. It’s funny that I’m least likely to show mercy when I think I’m being shown it the least; but shouldn’t that be when I see there’s a great need for it and thus give it more? Living and learning over here…. Thanks for stopping by, Helene.

  1. Mary

    Oh friend mercy/freedom…YES! Side by side…this touched my heart Lisa! thank you. AND…how did I miss that your one word for 2013 is Jesus! Love that!!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Mary. I continue to ponder the mercy/freedom connection; I sense it’s far bigger than I’m seeing.

      When I chose “Jesus” as my one word 2013 I felt like I was cheating somehow. ha. I know Jesus is the foundation for most everyone’s one word choice. But I’m glad I stuck with it anyway. I need that singular focus.

  2. floyd

    I fight to be remove the callouses of this world from my heart too. It’s an ugly thing to become cynical and unmoved by occurrences in the world around us. Funny how when we’re in that mindset our flesh craves justice for the world and others…. then I think again of myself… so in need of mercy instead of justice… This flesh is no picnic is it? Thanks for taking the narrow path and looking inside your heart, it is honesty and fellowship that draws us to our Father.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “the callouses of this world from my heart”

      Such a poignant illustration, Floyd. We do all have those spots that have built up in us, on us. Only Jesus can rub them away, wash them clean. You’re right that the flesh is no picnic. All the more reason we need his mercy. Yes.

  3. Mia

    Dear Lisa
    In the past I have seen our Pappa’s mercy as something I needed to work hard for to receive and I had not much mercy for myself. Through my illness I had to learn how to give myself some slack ( actually a lot), and to show the same mercy towards myself before I could ever dream to be merciful towards others. Like everything else, I had to learn to receive mercy from our Lord as a free gift before I had any to hand out to others around me.
    Much love XX

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Learning to receive mercy ourselves is such a crucial piece of the puzzle that we often miss, yet without it, we don’t understand how precious the gift is! Such great insights, Mia. Thanks for sharing this piece of your story.

  4. Rick Dawson

    There’s a song I like from an old Christian rock band called AD (one of many, actually) – here’s some of it:

    Deep in every heart, there’s a desire just to be accepted as we are,
    Everybody needs to know that he’s wanted, but everybody’s always wanting more,
    The son of God came down to be a servant; the world did not receive him as a king,
    And, if we take the Lord as our example, it ain’t how much you get, it’s what you bring.

    You got to show somebody your salvation, show someone the mercy you’ve been shown,
    And if you heed the very first commandment, you’ll take your brothers burdens as your own.

    If men could see our faith turned into action, the way the Lord intended it to be,
    If flesh and blood were dying in the Spirit, then Jesus would be plain for all to see,
    The words of our own mouths will be our judgement,
    The measure that we use will be returned,
    We hear the word, but how much do we do it?
    We hear the word, but how much have we learned?

    The song? The Only Way To Have A Friend 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I haven’t heard of AD, but the words of this song are very convicting. So glad you posted them here, Rick.

      “We hear the word, but how much do we do it?
      We hear the word, but how much have we learned?”

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  6. Ruth

    I so want to grow in mercy and grace. It is encouraging to know that there is a way to release the things that tie us up, by giving them to Him, allowing us to keep giving His mercy to others. So I’m not the only one who talks to the radio! 🙂 I catch myself allowing critical thoughts to keep me judging rather than extending mercy. May He help us to give mercy freely.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, Ruth, may the Lord help us grow more and more in giving away mercy for free. That’s how I want to live, too, and I fight against my innate nature to be judgmental instead. I definitely use up my share of mercy! Thank goodness it’s a bottomless pit. We’re blessed.

  7. emily wierenga

    dearest Lisa, i love the truth here. and i love your transparency and vulnerability. i was mercy-less to my husband tonight. i think i need to go and apologize. oh, so much to learn… and yet, we need to have mercy on ourselves as well. love you. e.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Isn’t it cool how we can all read each others’ words online and then go act on them in person? I find I often need to go apologize or take action after I read what someone else has written hundreds of miles away. God is good to not let distance in the atmosphere separate us from learning and inspiring each other on. Blessings to you in the making up with your hubby. I’m guessing it went well. 🙂

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  9. Barbara Harper

    That’s so true that when I am bound up in my own anxieties, I’m not showing grace or mercy to others. And I love the idea that freedom is not a reason to self-indulge, but an opportunity to serve.

  10. Dolly


    Love this: “But when I embrace my freedom—because of mercy that has been freely delivered to me through the Spirit of the Lord—I can give grace again.

    That is freedom.

    And in freedom, mercy is never the first thing to go.”

    So true. Thanks so much for sharing what you learned with us 🙂

  11. Donna Reidland

    My husband talks a lot about mercy and grace. He says if we take time regularly to contemplate the mercy and grace we’ve been shown and how much we don’t deserve it, it will be much easier to bend that mercy out to others. But if we think our sins are just minor character flaws and we didn’t desperately need a Savior to save us from ourselves, we won’t have much mercy for others. It all ties in to freedom, too, as you said so well. Because when we realize we are completely loved, forgiven and accepted by the One who really matters, we are free to love and accept others without worrying about extracting that from other people.

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