Last week we learned how we
must crave (hunger and thirst) to be approved by God (righteousness) by dying
to self. Jesus teaches us in Matthew 5:7 to temper that righteousness with an
attitude of mercy. Let’s start this
week by defining compassion. Look up the word in a good dictionary. Now look up justice and then mercy. Now read Zechariah 7:9-12. According to these verses, what is involved in judging rightly
(administering true justice)? What can
happen to our judgment if we don’t show mercy and compassion? What can happen to our judgment if we think
evil (suspicious) of each other? Why
was God eventually angry with his people in verse 12? True justice (righteousness) is accomplished by showing mercy and
compassion. We will learn more about
making the right judgment when we study Matthew chapter 7.
Showing mercy involves you doing something about what you see
happening. This is the definition of
compassion. Compassion is mercy in action. Letting a situation move your heart should cause you to take action. Notice in Matthew 9:36
how Jesus reacted to the people He saw.
Why did He have compassion on them?
His awareness of their helplessness drew out His compassion. Could you
learn to have compassion on someone if you were not aware of his or her
particular plight? Why or why
not? Our ignorance about people and
ourselves often results in an antagonistic attitude toward particular
situations. This ignorance can also
cause us to not be able to empathize or sympathize with others. In the following passage we will see another
definition of mercy. Read Matthew 18:23-35. What does Jesus equate with mercy in this parable (verses 33 and 35)? Was the wicked servant compassionate? Do you
think this wicked servant was aware of his position and his fellow servant’s
position before God? Why was the wicked servant tortured? What happens if we
don’t learn to be merciful (forgive each other from the heart)? Read Colossians 3:12-17. What do you think “bear with each other”
means? Does it involve being
inconvenienced, bothered and intruded upon? Being merciful and expressing mercy
in your compassionate and forgiving attitude allows you to be able to bear with
each other and reap joy from every situation.
Let’s see the function of
compassion in 2
Corinthians 1:3-6. According
to these verses, what would you say that compassion produces? What do you give someone when you show him
or her mercy? Here’s where we need to
let our emotions draw us together. Our
emotions need to foster convergence,
not divergence. When we are
compassionate people, compassion will warm hearts and open doors to people’s
hearts and minds. It is often our
desire to be left alone, to not be bothered, that causes us to miss out on the
blessings of being compassionate! Read
about this in Philippians
2:1-4. What should we be doing and what should we be looking to (verses 3 and 4)? What is it that rules your mind most of the
time, thoughts about what you are going to do for yourself, or what you are
going to do for others? Make a list
of things you want to do for others, especially those who are unbelievers,
because you are moved by their situation.
It could be someone at work who suffered a loss, or a neighbor who is
sick, or a family member who has a need.
Pray about what you want to do and make a specific plan to do it.
Today, let’s examine a
statement Jesus made in light of what we have learned so far about mercy: Matthew 9:13; 12:7 -- “I desire mercy and
not sacrifice.” This
statement Jesus refers to was originally made in Hosea 6:6. We usually think that if we are sacrificing
something for someone, we are loving them.
Today we shall see this notion has shortchanged and shortsighted
everyone. After reading carefully the
passages in Matthew and Hosea, answer the following questions. Can you discover why Jesus was quoting this
verse from Hosea? What point is He is
trying to make? Whom was He
addressing? The Pharisees were known to
be very sacrificial (Matthew 23:13-39, esp. 23) but they had no love. How did they show their lack of love in
these two situations? Did they show
they cared about others or themselves?
Do you see how lack of compassion results in hypocrisy, legalism and
self-righteousness? Compassion produces
holiness and purity. Read Micah 6:6-8. What is it that really pleases the
Lord? Can you see the beatitudes
leading you in this direction? If not,
what are you allowing to get in the way?
Pride? Selfishness (love of