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Mercy

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“And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34, New King James Version).

Over and over in the Gospels, we are told about the compassion of Jesus, whether ministering one on one or to the multitudes. Putting this into everyday speech, some might say Jesus felt sorry for them; but compassion has a much deeper meaning than pity or sympathy. It’s more than a pat on the back, a word of encouragement, or just being kind to someone. According to Webster Dictionary, compassion literally means “suffering with another.” In other words, we don’t just realize they have pain, we actually feel that pain with them. It is responding to the other person’s need as if it were our own.

Hebrews 13:3 shows us how true compassion works. It tells us to “remember those in prison as though you were in prison with them, and those ill-treated as though you too felt their torment” (New English Translation).

The Compassion of Christ

There were many traveling teachers or rabbis around the time of Christ. We know He was God robed in flesh, but what set His ministry apart from other teachers? Was it perhaps His compassion, that ability to put Himself into our shoes and feel the rock that’s bruising us as we walk? He never lost sight of what others felt and their suffering.

It is so easy to move through life distracted and oblivious to what’s happening to those around us. It’s true that many wear a mask, hiding from others what they are going through. If we ask them how they are doing, we often hear “fine, just fine.” But if we look behind the mask, we recognize their pain. That’s why we should pray for sensitivity and awareness.

Compassion Is Action

Compassion is not an emotion—it’s an action. It motivates us to help and support each other when there is a need. Author Karen Armstrong said, “In compassion, when we feel with the other, we dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and we put another person there.” Isn’t this what the Lord did in our behalf? He stepped off the throne and into our world because of His great compassion. Psalm 86:15 describes Him as being “full of compassion.” It is part of His character.  If we desire to be like Him, we will also step off the throne of our personal little kingdom to reach out to others with that same compassion.

“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (I Peter 3:8, NKJV).

Prayer: Lord, You are a God of compassion and mercy. You loved us enough to enter our world and step into our messy lives. Thank You for being willing to “suffer together.” Help me to recognize the needs of others and be willing to show them true compassion by feeling their need as if it were my need. Help me to always show compassion for those around me. That’s the only way I can really be like You.

 

“Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20-21, New King James Version).

It is so easy to read the Bible and zip right past a golden nugget without realizing it. Or, if something is puzzling, we just keep reading rather than taking time to investigate its meaning. Perhaps we should pause and reflect rather than speed on by.

Steps to Handling Relationships

When reading the above verses (and a very similar passage in Proverbs 25:21-22), more reflection is needed. Actually, it’s best to begin reading at verse 17. The passage gives us good instructions on successfully handling relationships in our life, including how to respond to those who have done us wrong. We are to:

  • Not return evil for evil
  • Be honest in our actions
  • Be at peace with others
  • Not seek revenge
  • Give food and drink to our enemy

But then we read, “for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” What! I’m going to do all these good things and then burn his head? This is where we pause and reflect. There are different explanations of the meaning, but one seems to fit the passage and cultural background more.

Replace Evil with Good

At the time the passage was written, people heated their homes and cooked their meals with fire. If the coals went out during the night, a person would no doubt go to a nearby family to borrow some live coals to restart his fire. The coals were placed in a pan, which was then carried home on his head. It was an act of kindness, a neighborly act, to share your coals with someone in such a situation. They were generous with the coals—filled a pan—even if that person has done them wrong in the past. Putting coals of fire on their head was a good thing, not something bad.

Verse 21 tells us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Which makes you feel better—to get even or to spread some good? If we respond evil for evil, we only make the situation worse. A vengeful spirit gnaws at our insides and robs us of peace.  With kindness, we might just turn that enemy into a friend. We will sleep better, and he will too.

First Peter 3:9 sums it up this way:

“Not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing” (Christian Standard Bible).

We are blessed as we bless others.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to treat others with loving kindness and compassion, even if their actions toward me have been hurtful. Forgive me if I have desired vengeance instead of forgiveness. Keep my heart pure so that Your blessings can flow through me to others.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me”

2 Corinthians 12:9

Have you ever read a scripture and tried to view it through someone else’s eyes? That’s what happened this week when I read this verse.

I imagined a lonely woman, struggling with rejection and a lifetime of poor decisions.

I seen a woman, wrestling with an addiction that has been kept quiet for years because shame has her cornered and she feels there is no way out.

I seen a young girl who is battling between right and wrong. So passionate about the kingdom of God, but attracted to the things of this world.

The storyline could be anything.. but one thing remains the same – His grace is enough. No matter the situation, His grace will always be enough. His blood still works, and has the power and ability to wash your slate clean.

Jesus, I’m so thankful for your blood today that still flows and washes me clean. I’m thankful for grace that is always extended to me, even though I am undeserving. Help me to live a life that understands grace.