The Gift of Faith vs. the Gift of Mercy

Kayaks on Honeoye Lake, New York
Kayaks on Honeoye Lake, New York

The gift of faith may be one of the more misunderstood gifts of the Spirit.  We’re not sure what, exactly, it is or how to use it.  After all, everyone needs faith or we can’t please God (Hebrews 11:6) and it’s by faith that we’re saved (Ephesians 2:8).  People with the gift of faith just have a little more faith than the average Christian.  So because we don’t know what to do with it, we relegate it to the intercessors and prayer warriors who hide in their prayer closets lifting up people and situations and asking God to intervene.

Church in Sodus, New York
Church building in Sodus, New York

Many intercessors actually don’t have the gift of faith, per se.  Some do for sure.  But many others have the gift of mercy – a close relative but very different from the gift of faith.

Views from Mt. Agassiz, Uinta Mountains, Utah
Views from Mt. Agassiz, Uinta Mountains, Utah

Someone with the gift of mercy will approach intercession from the standpoint of compassion.  “God, see this situation, it’s so awful, and they need help.  I feel so bad for them, Lord.  I want to help them because I can feel Your heart for them in their need.  Please help them!”

A hidden waterfall below Hidden Valley, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California
A hidden waterfall below Hidden Valley, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California

Someone with the gift of faith approaches the exact same situation from a different viewpoint.  “God, see this situation.  I know it’s not what You have in mind.  You said that this, and this, and this are what You do have in mind for them.  I’m agreeing with You, God, that You’re going to bring about what You’ve said.”

Snowy cliffs along the Lake Ann Trail, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington
Snowy cliffs along the Lake Ann Trail, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Do you see the difference?  Both are asking for God to intervene.  But while those with a gift of mercy are asking out of the compassion in their heart, those with the gift of faith are interceding out of the faith that God will fulfill His Word – that heaven will manifest on earth.

Hoodoos along the Navajo Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Hoodoos along the Navajo Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

It’s important to note that both of these gifts are useful well beyond the prayer room.  People with the gift of faith – or mercy – are not limited to being awake all night praying.  In fact, if that’s your only experience, you’re likely only living out part of the gift.  There’s a world beyond intercession – as important as prayer and interceding are.

Snowy Range, Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming
Snowy Range, Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming

Outside of the prayer room, the gift of mercy includes being there for people.  It’s listening, comforting, lifting up, and encouraging others.  It notices injustice and tries to right the wrong (those with the gift of mercy must be careful not to bring justice in their own strength – but that’s a topic for another post).  It rejoices exceedingly with those who rejoice.  The gift of mercy can be a very joyful gift because it feels the feelings of others deeply and runs alongside them in everything that they’re experiencing to help and to encourage.

A pond along the Ute Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
A pond along the Ute Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Outside of the prayer room, the gift of faith activates other gifts.  It trusts God in a very deep way and inspires others to do the same.  When someone with the gift of faith tells a story of how God worked in their life or another person’s life, the people listening will be filled with faith.  (In this way, the gift of faith is closely related to the gift of exhortation (encouragement).)  If the gift of mercy is a thermometer of what other people feel, then the gift of faith is the thermostat that changes the way the people around them view situations, people, and the way God sees them.

Sunset at the Plymouth Jetty, Massachusetts
Sunset at the Plymouth Jetty, Massachusetts

Like the rest of the gifts of the Spirit, both the gift of mercy and the gift of faith are amazing and beautiful expressions of God’s love to the people on earth.  Neither one is especially better or more important than the other.  If you’ve been blessed with either the gift of faith or the gift of mercy, use it the way that God has given you to do so (1 Corinthians 12:7, 11) – both in prayer and intercession and outside of the prayer room with the people around you.