S84P5 – As mercy reigns: compassion reigns

Heb. 4:14-16

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

He was your classic angry teenager who thought no one understood him.  His attempts at gaining attention always got him in trouble because he never sought the right kind of attention.  His expectation was that the adults in authority over him would see him as a troublemaker and never bother to give him a break.  When it came to school, that expectation was met just about every time.  There was one teacher, however, who defied that expectation.  This teacher took the time to understand not just how he behaved but why. This teacher granted mercy and grace instead of inflicting punishment because he understood what it was like to be in that same place.  It was his compassion born from experience that prompted this mercy.

Mercy and compassion have a dependent relationship.  Without compassion, one cannot extend mercy.  Jesus Christ can sympathize with our struggles with temptation because He suffered temptation as well.  Although He never sinned, He understands the thick of the battle.  His mercy over us as we approach him for forgiveness and salvation springs forth from this compassion.  This is our indicator of whether our mercy is genuine.  Extending mercy to others should not be a mere act of obedience or spiritual reflex.  Our merciful acts should be tied to our sympathy and empathy for what others must endure.  These are acts we perform with intention and clear thought, with purpose for a spiritual result as we have experienced it. 

When someone cries out to us for mercy, we can understand their need even if we do not understand their circumstance.  We have been in that same place and have cried out for that same relief, and this should stir compassion in us to extend the mercy God has developed in us.  Mercy dries up in us when we lose our compassion and decide to hold offense or judgment against others, forgetting that we are no different.  Only if we allow compassion to grow in us can we exercise the mercy God requires of us.  Father, increase our compassion for others so that our mercies would increase to overflowing just as yours overflow.