Proverbs 12:10 ESV
Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.
To have mercy for the weak is not natural. Mankind may feel pity, it is true, and kindness is hardly unknown to him, but these are mere impulses, washed away with time. Mankind in his fallen state has no understanding of why and how he ought to care for others than himself, for is he not the center of the cosmos? Even those who hold themselves too small to matter in that same act hold the rest of the world too large to care for. Only the redeeming grace of God can provide a stable and coherent foundation for mercy and kindness, a rationale for it and a motivation all in one.
The beast of burden was for the Israelite nearly the lowest of the low. Its owner might treat it as he willed, at least as far as anybody else cared. Yet the righteous man, this proverb says, will have regard for the life of his beast. Why?
God made the world and all that is in it; He further gave it to man for his dominion, that the Image of God might create in His image (Genesis 1-2). The beast of burden is a part of this creation. To be cruel to the beast or to forget its life would be disrespectful of God’s grand calling, placing momentary bursts of ill-directed pleasure or short-term ease above the right stewardship which God demands of His people. The Christian, therefore, regards the life of his beast as precious, however lowly it is compared to a human being.
The wicked, though, have a different course. You may ask, indeed, how their mercy could be wicked. What could change mercy into cruelty?
Perhaps mercy is a pretext. The wicked man says, he says, that he desires to grant mercy, and upon this pretext he is cruel, without even realizing himself it is a lie.
Perhaps the mercy is genuine and the means poisonous. The wicked man sees suffering and seeks in all honesty to alleviate it, but his means, being built on a false foundation that does not know God, cause as much or more suffering than what they were meant to remedy.
Mercy, without a Biblical moral compass and a Biblical view of how the world works, becomes cruelty, whether by intent or accident. The righteous, meanwhile, sees the world ever closer to how it is and sees ever clearer what it should be; therefore, his mercy is, in the good will of God, well-guided and prospered to the healing of the world, the church, the family, the individual, himself. This man’s mercy is, after all, an imitation and tribute to the One who died on the Cross for the sins of all His elect, that they might know Him and His mercy everlasting.
What wondrous love is this, oh my soul, oh my soul,
What wondrous love is this, oh my soul,
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.
~What Wondrous Love is This, an American folk hymn.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.