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Though compassion is a tremendous moving force, it is useless without mercy. Compassion lies within the heart; mercy is the outward manifestation of that which is felt in the heart.

Throughout the four Gospels, Jesus is described as having been moved with compassion.

Webster defines compassion as "a suffering with another; hence, sympathy; sorrow for the distress or misfortune of another, with the desire to help." Vine's Expository Dictionary says it means "to be moved as to one's inwards."

Compassion flows from the seat of the emotions and is a strong, compelling desire to help someone in distress.

Though compassion is a tremendous moving force, it is useless without mercy, Compassion lies within the heart; mercy is the outward manifestation of that which is felt in the heart. Compassion feels the need; mercy fills the need.

Let's use an illustration: Suppose a friend who is in desperate need of a hundred dollars comes to you and asks for a loan. Your heart goes out to him and you sincerely desire to help; but at that particular time you lack the money. Though you have compassion, you cannot show mercy.

A number of years ago when I would see people whose bodies were crippled or full of disease, I had compassion in my heart toward them and would feel the agony they were going through. Inwardly I would ache and hurt for them. Though I had compassion, I had nothing to give them.

Thank God, now I not only have the compassion, I have something tangible to give them: the healing and miracle-working power of God.

Not only do I have the compassion, I am able to have mercy on their needs, and compassion compels me to them.

To meet a person's need, both mercy and compassion must be in operation. Compassion compels us to the one in need; mercy meets the need.

Here is a Biblical example of both compassion and mercy in operation through the ministry of the Lord Jesus:

"And as they departed form Jericho, a great multitude followed him, a great multitude followed him.

And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.

And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.

And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?

They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him" (Matt. 20:29-34).

These two who were crying out for mercy addressed Jesus as the Son of David. This shows that they recognized authority. They knew that Jesus not only had the means to meet their need, but the authority as well. (You will be unable to do anything with faith unless you understand authority.)

When Jesus heard their cry, the compassion of God within Him rose up and dictated His actions. He stopped and called for them to be brought to Him. Then when he touched their eyes, immediately they received sight.

This action was mercy in operation. Those two men had faith that God through Jesus would be merciful to them. Their faith was in God's mercy, and Jesus responded at the point of their faith.

Source: The Force Of Mercy by Buddy Harrison & Dr. Michael Landsman.
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Buddy Harrison
Web site: Pat Harrison Ministries
Buddy Harrison and his wife, Pat, were co-founders of Faith Christian Fellowship International Church. He served as president of the organization from 1978 until he went home to be with the Lord on November 28, 1998.

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