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, 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.
We live in a 24-hour news cycle. Tornado ravaged towns, flooded communities, subdivisions completely destroyed by wildfires; earthquakes shatter the lives of entire countries. Tsunamis wiping out villages, droughts destroying crops, and the list go on.
If there is ever a time for the gifted in mercy to stand and be usable for God is now. There are millions of hurting people in the world; but also in the very communities in which you live and the churches in which you gather. There are countless stories of friends, neighbors, co-workers and church members who have heart-wrenching stories of sorrow, pain, and disappointment.
Compassion is mercy in action. Mercy is the Spirit working gift that demonstrates God's sincere compassion on others who suffer.
The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is a spiritual message of love for neighbor, being an honorable citizen, and demonstrating mercy the extra mile.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to the story of the Good Samaritan in A time to Break Silence:
On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan is about a guy who lays aside all social codes of ethnicity for the sake of taking care of his neighbor.
The Samaritan also demonstrates spirituality and not religion. Spirituality is being Christ-like in action. Religion is a belief or an opinion about theology. 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 could not see outside their tunnel vision and take the time to demonstrate mercy.
What do you see in the very people God places right in front of you?