…he is kind toward the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, even as your Father is also merciful.Luke 6:35-36
In our English Bibles, sometimes verses that express compassion will mention mercy or kindness; sometimes compassion is equated with forgiveness. However it is expressed, we are commanded by Yeshua to be like God in regard to his mercy and compassion. What does that look like?
Ezekiel 16:5 No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you, to have compassion on you; but you were cast out in the open field, for that your person was abhorred, in the day that you were born.
Psalm 78:36-39 But they flattered him with their mouth, and lied to him with their tongue. For their heart was not right with him, neither were they faithful in his covenant. But he, being compassionate, forgave iniquity, and didn’t destroy them. Yes, many times he turned his anger away, and didn’t stir up all his wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes away, and doesn’t come again.
Micah 7:18-19 Who is a God like you, who pardons iniquity, and passes over the disobedience of the remnant of his heritage? He doesn’t retain his anger forever, because he delights in loving kindness. He will again have compassion on us. He will tread our iniquities under foot; and you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Jeremiah 12:15 It shall happen, after that I have plucked them up [from their land due to their disobedience], I will return and have compassion on them; and I will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.
God’s compassion has been evident in choosing to take care of Israel as caring for an abandoned baby. His compassion is evident in forgiving them when they were consistently unthankful and disobedient to him. His compassion is evident in restoring Israel to their land after their captivity for disobedience.
If we are to be merciful and compassionate like our Father, we need to recognize that the examples he sets for us is teaching us that compassion is all about helping those who are unable to help themselves.
Yeshua exhibited this same type of compassion by teaching his people who were like lost sheep without a shepherd, but also by filling their bellies when they were in need in a deserted location. Just like his Father, his compassion helped those who could not help themselves.
If someone has wronged you, the relationship cannot be restored unless you extend compassion; you are helping someone who cannot get help themselves get past some misunderstanding or offense. This is equally as compassionate as providing food or clothing to those who have none, or very little.
If we are to imitate our Father, it has to be in relentlessly building bridges between those who are unyielding in their positions or those whose circumstances will not be changed without some sort of intervention. Our compassion is designed to be the catalyst that drops barriers, opens doors, and sparks understanding. Compassion is building bridges to others who are unable to get from where they are to where God wants them to be.
This is the goal of the command for us to be merciful and compassionate with others. When we exhibit the characteristics of our Father, then people who may never have picked up a Bible will still be able to see him in action, and be helped in the process.