“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
I told a friend recently that I’m a recovering Type-A. What I mean by this is that compassion is not my natural default! I’m visionary, motivated, task-oriented, and determined… but I’m not naturally sensitive and caring. When that shows up inside me, I know that God is in the house!
In spite of our human limitations, Jesus demonstrated what compassion looks like and speaks to the human capacity for compassion when filled with the divine. Consider the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11. The crowd was abuzz with blood thirst, almost riotous with violent malice. Some were focused on trapping Jesus. Others were focused on the woman, hardened by their religious fundamentalism. And probably some were simply curious bystanders.
But Jesus defused the mob with His calm authority and gentle spirit. His mercy did not condone bad behavior; instead it reached past behavior to the heart of this woman’s worth and identity as a child of God. His justice was restorative, calling this woman out of her bondage and into freedom. Mercy is what liberates people from bad behavior!