(Proverbs 11:17 KJV) The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.
There is a difference here that does not come through in the NASB. In comparing effects of mercy and cruelty the KJV refers to one touching the “soul” (5315) [nephesh] and the other the “flesh” (7607). The NASB uses “self” for both although the study tool says they refer to different words. I think the difference is important.
Mercy is concerned with the big picture. It is focused on eternity and the consequences of our actions. As a result, you may do what is best for a person in the long run and they will resent it because it isn’t what they want.
Cruelty is zeroed on the physical, the carnal. It wants it now and it wants it “my” way. This kind of person makes people happy today but does not give them what they really need.
As a middle school teacher I see a lot of children who are being destroyed because no adult in their life has been willing and able to dispense mercy. I may be willing but I am blocked, overruled and trumped by a school system and leadership that is more into “feel good” than “do right.”
So? I struggle every day. Are you taking the long view? Are you taking the eternal principles that God has laid out and applying them. Be willing, even if you are not always able.