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14 April 2009

Compassion & Mercy

The following post was written by friend and commenter Leroy. Good stuff! Read on...

When I’m preparing Microsoft Word™ documents, I often use the synonym function to get a better understanding of a word. This week two words struck me in general. These words are compassion and mercy.

According to Wikipedia, compassion “is a profound human emotion prompted by the pain of others….the feeling commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another's suffering.” Of particular interest to me is this part: “active desire to alleviate another’s suffering”. Active compassion is better known as mercy.

Do we as Christians desire to alleviate another’s suffering and do we make an “active” effort to do it? As the Body of Christ (the Church), we all have certain gifts. Some are better at evangelism, some are better at exhortation. According to 1 Corinthians 12:4, that’s the way God intended it to be. But sometimes I find myself focusing on an area I’m good at and ignoring one where I could use some improvement. While we are supposed to be better at one thing than another, I can’t find where the Bible tells us to ignore our weaker areas.

Back to my analysis of compassion - when I look at the synonym for a word, I look at the antonym as well. An antonym for compassion is coldness. That was kind of obvious so I dug deeper into the opposite meaning of compassion. I determined there were two concepts that conflict with (are “antonyms” to) compassion…pride and selfishness. In other words, to be compassionate and show mercy we have to put aside pride and selfishness.

Ask yourself this…do I make a genuine effort to get better at my weak areas; or do I just say that’s part of my personality and continue to focus on the ‘good’ things? Compassion without mercy is like faith without works.

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