By Don Givens
Every child of God needs to give serious thought to the question of the title. Have we so abundantly received mercy and compassion from our Lord, and yet so sparingly extended it unto others?
Compassion is defined as: “to spare; have pity; show mercy; to have a feeling of distress through the ills of others; to suffer with another; to have the bowels yearn; i.e. to feel sympathy; be mutually concerned.” In order to persistently practice compassion one must first have humility, and a deep sense of gratitude for what the Lord has done for him. Who can be saved without the compassion of God? Who can be saved without being merciful unto others (Matt. 6:14,15)?
Our Heavenly Father is ever ready to forgive the penitent sinner, and extend mercy to one who is led by godly sorrow to repent of his sins (Psa. 86:15-17; Neh. 9:3 1; Lam. 3:22). Listen carefully as the prophet Micah tells us of the Lord’s compassion: “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Mic. 7:18,19). He delighteth in mercy! So states the prophet. Do we delight in extending compassion and mercy; or do we sometimes grudgingly and reluctantly extend it?
The Example of Jesus
Our Lord had sincere compassion toward “scattered sheep” (Matt. 9:35,36) and toward “famished multitudes” (Matt. 15:32). He willingly extended mercy toward the blind (Matt. 20:34), the despised lepers (Mark 1:41), and the bereaved (Luke 7:13). His compassion went out to the sinful woman in John 8:11 with the command to repent of her iniquity, and start fresh and clean again.
Follow In His Footsteps
Are we like Jesus? Are we like the father of the prodigal (Luke 15:20)? Or are we more like the elder brother? The Lord God has removed our transgressions from us (Psa. 103:8-14), and has not punished the penitent sinner as he deserved. Where would we be were it not for the compassionate mercy of God?
Christ is our compassionate High Priest (Heb. 5:1,2), and He is “touched” and understands our infirmities. Are we this way toward others?
May we ever remember “and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you” (Matt. 7:2). We are, this very day, setting the tone of our own judgment. We are “whittling our own measuring stick.” “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt. 5:7).
“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing” (1 Pet. 3:8,9). Did you hear the apostle say that we are called to these qualities, so that in turn we should inherit a blessing? How many times in my life, in yours, and in congregational situations has there been a crying need for more compassion, more tenderheartedness, more humble mindedness, and more courtesy?
Are we like Jesus? “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and perfector of our faith” (Heb. 12:1-2).
Guardian of Truth XXX: 13, p. 394
July 3, 1986