MERCY, COMPASSION, AND FORGIVENESS
Anita Clark – Pastor Carbondale, Kansas
These traits are what the Lord Jesus Christ manifested when He was here on the earth. We, who are born again have the life of Christ in us. As we walk in the new life, we will manifest the characteristics of the Lord Jesus.
Titus, a follower of Christ through Paul’s ministry was admonished to manifest Christ in his life toward others in Titus 3:1-5. Verse 1 says, “...be ready for every good work.” Verse 2, says, “...speak evil of no man, to be no brawler [i.e. to be peaceable], but gentle, showing all meekness to all men.” Paul says in Vs. 3. “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” Vs. 4 tells us what changed us, “But after the kindness and love of God our Savior toward men appeared...according to His mercy He saved us...”. A wonderful change took place.
A good definition of the word “mercy” in the New Testament is “compassion or sympathy, tenderness or tender heartedness, or pity.” Remember, Jesus was asked by poor miserable people to have compassion on them. Some examples come to mind from Christ’s time here on the earth - many times when He showed compassion or mercy.
In Luke 10:30-37, Jesus told the story of the “Good Samaritan.” If you haven’t read this story, do read it. The poor man had been left to die, wounded and bleeding beside the road. A certain priest came by, but he could not help the man because he couldn’t touch a dead person. That would never do, he just couldn’t risk his career as a priest of the temple. After all there were rules to follow. Second, a Levite, a man of the chosen tribe, very religious, who had to keep his life holy came by. What if this man was dead, this Levite would have to go through a big cleansing process before he could even enter the temple, much less work there. Notice, “They passed on the other side.”
Then, came along a Samaritan. Jesus calls him. “A certain Samaritan.” God has “certain” people who show mercy on the helpless and the needy. This Samaritan didn’t hesitate and think, “Now, is this man a moral man or immoral, is he a man who obeys God or not.” No! The Samaritan had compassion.
Another illustration that Jesus used was the story of the “lost son,” found in Luke 15:11-32. Vs. 20 says, “And he arose, and came unto his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed.” The word “compassion” means “to be moved inside our inner being, to feel sympathy, to pity.” Where would we be without the compassion that our Father God has for us.
Jesus had compassion on the great multitude of people which came out to hear the Word from Him. (Mark 8:1-3). Vs. 2 says, “I have compassion on the multitude because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat...”. He saw not just their spiritual needs, but their natural needs. What a good example. We too must be willing in ministering to others to meet natural needs if there are some. Not only showing compassion for their rescue from sin’s hold, but also for their natural needs. Sometimes, when we meet the natural needs there is opportunity to share the gospel with them and bring them into the spiritual light of God’s uttermost compassion for their souls.
Another word to study is “forgiveness.” This word means, “to send forth, lay aside, let go, put away, pardon a sin or offence.” Sometimes someone hurts us so badly that we think we can never forgive them. That’s a lie the devil tells us. God’s word teaches us that we must forgive others. This is not only when they ask us to forgive them, but in any circumstance where there’s been a break between persons.
There’s not a one of us who hasn’t experienced a situation where someone hurt us, or went against the truth of the Word, or some other offense. We often just break fellowship and leave them alone. Sometimes there’s nothing we can do except to pray for them and commit them unto God.
Paul says in Ephesians 4:30-32, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” These descriptive words show exactly what happens when a person is angry at another, and just lets go of all control. This is truly the fleshly nature being manifested. How sad that believers sometimes let go and speak in hateful words like this!
Our God is such a wonderful loving God who forgives all our trespasses. We are human and sometimes we go through very hard things to overcome, but God wants us to enter into forgiveness toward those who have hurt us. Yes, even when they don’t ask for forgiveness. Jesus said, “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44.)