God shows mercy, love, compassion, and kindness to particular individuals.
God showed kindness to Joseph, and He manifested His kindness by causing others to look upon him with favor. Gen. 39:21.
This story shows that the Lord doesn’t only spread kindness around in an undifferentiated way, like snowflakes from the sky, but at times He bestows kindness on specific individuals. It also shows God’s ability to influence human attitudes. Other people involved with this story regarded Joseph with favor because God influenced them to do so. Moses does not describe the means by which God achieved this. It may be that God spiritually enabled them to see and value Joseph’s true goodness, and, out of pity and conscience, they treated him well. The human heart is not immune to God’s influence.
Joseph's story also illustrates God’s liberty in showing different types of kindness and mercy. God did something for Joseph that He didn’t do for others.
God rewards faithfulness with mercy. Joseph was a God-fearing young man, and he continued to walk with God in spite of the horrible things that were done to him. In response God led him to a great victory over his foes. Joseph was not a case-study of unconditional divine kindness. God didn't owe Joseph kindness, but He rewarded Joseph for his faith and fidelity.
God showed mercy and kindness to David.
David felt great faith in the Lord’s mercy, and opted to fall into the Lord’s hands rather than man’s (2 Sam. 24:14). David felt no hesitation in doing this, so clearly, he had great faith in God’s mercy and kindness. He declares the Lord’s great mercies, and in light of that truth he calls on Him for revival (Ps. 119:156).
Mercy is the divine condition on which David approaches the Lord. If the Lord was harsh and unkind, David would not feel such confidence in approaching the throne of grace. God pledged His lovingkindness to David and his descendants (2 Sam. 22:51). Solomon recognized that he was an undeserving inheritor of God’s goodness to his father.
God shows mercy, love, compassion, and kindness to entire nations.
God showed great mercy and kindness to the people of Israel. Ps. 106:7. The apostle Paul recites the Lord’s many good gifts to Israel, such as national adoption by God, the Lord’s glory, the covenants, the law, the temple worship, numerous glorious promises, and, greatest of all, the Messiah (Rom. 9:3-5). Israel is the centerpiece demonstration of God showing mercy, kindness, and love on a national scale.
But God also shows mercy and compassion toward Gentile nations who repent. The Lord told Jeremiah He would reverse judgment toward repentant Gentile nations (Jer. 18:7-8). A great example of this was the Lord’s dealing with pagan Nineveh. The Lord sent Jonah to Nineveh because the Lord did not desire the death of the wicked (Ezk. 18:32), which Jonah knew and feared would be the case (Jonah 4:1-2). Nineveh shocked the world by repenting en masse, and in response the Lord spared the city. The Lord gave Jericho a week to repent and surrender (Jos. 6:1-5).
God even shows measures of mercy to nations who do not repent! The Lord promised to sustain the earth, and never again destroy everyone with a flood (Gen. 9:12-16). This mercy encompasses the earth throughout time, in spite of our sins. Christ says in Matthew 5:43-48 that the Lord loves His enemies, and sends them sunshine and rain for their crops and herds. Christ holds up this aspect of God the Father as the disciple’s perfect example of love.
God shows mercies and kindnesses to all without exception.
David says that the Lord’s mercies are over everything he has created. Ps. 145:9. This includes the unrepentant. The apostle Paul speaks of this.
Paul chastises the hypocrite who criticizes others but commits the same sins. God is impartial in His judgments, so that sort of unjust judging will not stand with the Lord (2:1-2). In verse 3, Paul says that this two-faced judgmentalism shows contempt toward God’s kindness, tolerance, and patience.
God could lawfully strike down any person for their sins. But in most ways, on most days, God freely and gladly refrains from doing this. As one of the psalmists said, if God punished every iniquity and never forgave sin, who would survive (Ps. 130:3-4)? But God doesn't relate to people in that way. We should thank God that He is so amazingly kind and forbearing.
Since everyone is a sinner, we know by implication from Romans 2:3 that God is showing kindness, tolerance, and patience toward the entire human race, or else we would all be dead as in Noah's day. Every day that God does not judge a stubborn sinner, God is showing mercy, kindness, and love to that person. So, God is merciful to everyone.
It is very important to note that God’s motive for showing patience, kindness, and forbearance to the hypocrite is to lead that person to salvation (4b). God already knows from eternity past who will or won't comply, but He does it for the unrepentant anyway, to glorify His own mercy. The knowledge needed for repentance is provided for everyone, since God has made His existence and nature clearly known through nature and conscience (Romans 1:18-20). God, by His omnipotence, can get the Gospel to anyone who calls upon Him, or get that person to the Gospel.
In the unfolding plan of redemption, God still distinctly loves the Jews, because of His lovingkindness to their founding fathers. This is spite of their unrepentance toward Christ (Ro. 11:28). God is no anti-semite, and He has not "replaced" the Jews with the Christian Church.
Paul says in Titus 3:4 that the appearance of Christ the Savior was the manifestation of God’s goodness and loving kindness to all. The ones to whom God revealed this were those whose works cannot merit salvation (v.5). Since no one’s legal works merit salvation, then this divine kindness was to everyone without exception. Paul says elsewhere that God is everyone’s Savior, including unbelievers (1 Tim. 4:10). There is a distinction of salvation experience (“especially”), but not a difference of innate God’s Saviorhood.
God is merciful to all!