Mercy and Compassion

Jan 09, 2021

I have just completed the editorial changes to my book that will be published sometime this summer, Called to Help the Poor and Needy. The book focuses on the 2,000+ Bible verses that command us to help the poor or needy person, the sick, the prisoner, the foreigner or stranger, the neighbor, basically anyone who is in need. God is not suggesting that we help other people; He is commanding it.  If we look at Jesus’s ministry on earth, he was always helping people—the sick, the lame, the blind, the bedeviled, the bleeding, the leper. He was always asking them what did they needed. And then providing it. His ministry was to more than just the Jews; He talked to a Samaritan woman at the well, He cured a Roman centurion’s child, He stood up for a woman who was an adulterer, He dined with tax collectors who were hated by everyone and with Pharisees. Everywhere He went, He was helping people.

 

He gave a clear definition of a neighbor in the Parable of the Good Samaritan: someone in need. [Luke 10:25-38] And who helped the man by the roadside? The priest? No. The Levite? No. It was an outcast, a Samaritan who bandaged his wounds, carried him on his donkey to an inn and took care of him. He gave money to the innkeeper for the man’s stay and promised to check back in on him when he returned. The expert in the law who had asked Jesus to define a neighbor, recognized that the good neighbor in the parable was “The one who had mercy on him.” [v. 37] Mercy means compassion. From compassion.com, a Christian site, comes this definition of compassion: “Compassion alludes to kindness and sympathy, but there is something deeper, something even more profoundly powerful in its meaning. The origin of the word helps us to grasp the true breadth and significance of compassion. In Latin, ‘compati’ means “suffer with.” Compassion means someone else’s heartbreak becomes your heartbreak. Another’s suffering becomes your suffering. True compassion changes the way we live.”[1]

 

And when another’s suffering becomes our own, we behave in radically different ways from the normal response to people in need. We stand with them in their suffering. We listen to their stories and what the suffering means to them. We become vested in helping them, however we can. They are no longer just someone suffering, but a brother or sister to us in Christ. We see Christ in them. We hear what Christ is asking us to do in this situation and we do it. We live out the cardinal rule of Christianity: We love God so much that we will do whatever is needed for another in His love. To me, the proof of our turning or lives over to Christ, to accepting Him as our Lord and Master means that we will be kind, merciful, compassionate, patient and loving with the people the Lord puts in our path. And we will do it willingly, surrendering whatever plans we had to the Lord.

 

Helping others is where we are truly expressing the fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23] to all we meet. Gone is the judgment and prejudice and self-serving agenda, the anger and projection on those who are different from us. There is only embrace and love and patience, goodness, kindness and gentleness, faithfulness and humility towards the other person. And we experience great peace and joy in helping another in truly meaningful ways.

 

My book about the poor and needy and God’s call to help them is a testimony to the merciful, loving and compassionate God we serve. In so many ways God tells us to be helpful and engaging with everyone in need. We are to know them and to love them with a compassionate heart. We are to walk with them, to do whatever might be helpful for them, to take good care of them. God will tell us exactly what He wants us to do. As Christians, we serve our God through serving others. Jesus said it best in the Two Great Commandments: 1)”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all  your mind and all your strength” and 2)”You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Mat 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28]

 

So, listen to that “still, small voice” within you, the voice of the indwelling Holy Spirit; do whatever He says to do. You will experience such a mix of joy and sorrow, peace and blessings. And you will be fulfilled and purposeful, merciful and compassionate in all that you do.

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Questions to ponder over the week: How compassionate am I to my neighbor? to the stranger? To the foreigner? To everyone? Who do I exclude from my compassion? Am I compassionate towards myself, my flaws and sins? Am I forgiving? Do I express God’s love to everyone I meet?

 

Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God whose hearts are filled with mercy and compassion for other human beings. May we show everyone God’s kind of love.

 

See more blog posts and offerings at patsaidadams.com.

 

Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts every month. 12.14.20s titled “Attachments vs. Love.” Sign up to receive these as monthly emails at the deepening website.

 

[1] https://www.compassion.com/poverty/what-does-the-bible-say-about-compassion.htm#:~:text=Compassion%20alludes%20to%20kindness%20and,profoundly%20powerful%2C%20in%20its%20meaning.&text=In%20Latin%2C%20’compati’%20means,Another’s%20suffering%20becomes%20your%20suffering.

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