A store owner was tacking a sign above his door that read “Puppies for Sale.” Signs like that have a way of attracting small children, and sure enough, a little boy appeared under the store owner’s sign. “How much are you going to sell the puppies for?” He asked. The store owner replied, “Anywhere from $30 to $50.”
The little boy reached in his pocket and pulled out some change. “I have $2.37,” he said. “Can I please look at them?”
The store owner smiled and whistled and out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his store followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur. One puppy was lagging considerably behind. Immediately the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, “What’s wrong with that little dog?”
The store owner explained that the veterinarian had examined the little puppy and had discovered it didn’t have a hip socket. It would always limp. It would always be lame. The little boy became excited. “That is the little puppy that I want to buy” ..
The store owner said, “No son, you don’t want to buy that little dog. If you really want him, I’ll just give him to you” ….
The little boy got quite upset. He looked straight into the store owner’s eyes, pointing his finger, and said, “I don’t want you to give him to me. That little dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs, and I’ll pay full price. In fact, I’ll give you $2.37 now, and 50 cents a month until I have him paid for” ….
The store owner countered, “You really don’t want to buy this little dog. He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies.”
To this, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg, supported by a big metal brace. He looked up at the store owner and softly replied, “Well, I don’t run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands!” ……
The person who possesses the gift of mercy has the ability to genuinely empathize with an individual who is suffering. The gift enables the possessor the ability to demonstrate compassion in a way that reflects the glory of God and strengthens the sufferer …
“God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
We live in a 24-hour news cycle. We hear about tornado-ravaged towns, flooded communities, subdivisions destroyed by wildfires, earthquakes that shatter the lives of entire countries, powerful tsunamis wiping out entire villages, droughts destroying crops, and the list goes on and on ….
If there was ever a time for those gifted in mercy to stand and be used by God, that time is right now. There are millions of hurting people in the world. Hurting people are also in the very communities in which you and I live and within the churches with whom you gather. There are countless stories of friends, neighbors, co-workers and fellow Jesus believers who have heart-wrenching stories of sorrow, pain, lonliness, and great disappointments ….
Our society is filled with the sting of divorce, the pains of abuse, the struggles of affliction, the toll that alcoholism has on families, the devastating results of drug addiction, and the deep loneliness that leads to depression. We do not have to look very far or very long before we can spot someone in need of the gift of mercy and empathy. We are instructed to bear one another’s burdens:
“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”
A merciful person demonstrates God’s sincere compassion for others who suffer. Jesus tells a story about a man who is often described as the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The story is a spiritual message of love for a neighbor, being an honorable citizen, and demonstrating mercy by going far more than the “extra mile” …..
The good Samaritan also demonstrates a God-tuned spirituality, not just intellectual involvement with religion. Knowledge alone will only carry you so far, but when mercy prevails, it can cross unimaginable boundaries. What good does it profit to know scripture and quote it with the best of the theologians; but have the inability to put the spiritual principals into practice??
Spirituality is being like our Father in our actions (James 1:26-27), and we are to love as Jesus loved. Religion is a belief or an opinion about theological information. It is obvious that the Samaritan wasn’t concerned about the wounded man’s theology, but rather about taking care of his needs. The religious men in Jesus’ story could not see outside their tunnel vision and take the time to demonstrate God’s mercy to one of God’s children ….
Therefore, I ask you: are you spiritual or are you religious? Are you merely a hearer, or are you a doer?? (James 1:21-25).
May we have a heart of mercy for others as our Father had for us in Jesus; compassion for the hurting and the ability to use our own difficulties to understand the hurts and needs of those who are suffering, whether wounded by painful experiences, by deep emotional scars, or the struggle with physical challenges ….
Be that good Samaritan. True worship does not exist if it is not translated into service to one’s neighbor. Let us never forget: in the face of the suffering of so many people destroyed by hunger, by violence, by addictions, by traumas, and by injustices; we absolutely cannot remain merely spectators ….
What does it mean to ignore any person’s suffering? It means to ignore God! Therefore, be mindful. Be kind. Just as the little boy’s limitations were not so obvious, you have no idea what the person crossing your path might be going through today …
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16).
Let us pray ~
Father in heaven, we stand amazed at the great mercy and grace that You have shown towards a fallen race of sinners. By rights, we should be eternally separated from Your holiness and goodness; for we have rebelled against You in thought, word and deed, and yet, in loving-kindness and tender-pity, You reached down to fallen humanity and lifted us up and seated us together with Your dearly beloved Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who died that we might live. Thank You for Your incredible forgiveness and Your amazing grace towards us. Father I pray that You would light a spark of true forgiveness and mercy in my heart towards all those that have harmed or hurt us, whether deliberately or unintentionally, knowing that it is not only Your will for us to show godly mercy towards others, but also that we become equal beneficiaries when our heart is flooded with mercy and forgiveness. Root out I pray, any lingering bitterness or malice that is lurking within my heart and may the godly fruit of mercy and love bud and blossom into the true fruit of righteousness, all to Your honour and glory. This I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen ….