December 6, 2021

Compassion Shows Mercy

Written by Boyd Bailey

Like Jesus, show compassion by lifting up a fallen one and help him to find a better way.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – December 6, 2021

The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt. John 8:3-8, MSG

Bowed down and broken in utter humiliation, her shriek for mercy could be heard across the Temple courtyard in Jerusalem. Few could have stood up to this public, verbal flogging. With frenzied fervor the self-righteous accusers fueled each other—all the proud hearts present piled on. Like a lonely, scared dog, surrounded by a pack of wolves, this out-manned woman stood frozen in fear. No doubt jealous of Jesus, the scholars and religious leaders interrupted the Rabbi’s teaching to lay a trap related to the law of Moses. With a stroke of humble genius, instead of falling for their theological trap, Jesus answers with a question related to the accusers sinfulness. Are you perfect? If so, kill her. If not, extend to this fellow human in need, the same mercy and grace you need. Jesus elevates compassion over condemnation to illustrate His new, radical love!

Henri Nouwen’s quote below is the heart of this devotional. As human beings we are loved by our Creator, and how does He love us? God sees us as His beautiful beloved, made in His image, a refreshing expression of His love. Henri Nouwen experienced this elevated level of love as he voluntarily transitioned from a wildly successful professorship at the University of Notre Dame, Yale and Harvard to the balance of his career serving as chaplain to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the L’Arche Daybreak community in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Henri’s quote related to how our heavenly Father accepts and loves us as His beloved children:

I love you because you are beautiful, made in my own image, an expression of my most intimate love. Do not judge yourself. Do not condemn yourself. Do not reject yourself. Let my love touch the deepest, most hidden corners of your heart.

Christ’s compassion is especially evident with those of us caught as it were, in a crisis caused by sin. Many times, it’s our own sinful choices which sometimes includes the sinful reactions of others. When we remember our own flaws, we withhold casting stones at other sinners, and we are willing to have a dignified dialogue with those different from us. Compassion shows mercy. 

If your friend or loved one has been caught in sin, avoid the temptation to pile on with all the other self-righteous souls. Instead, ask the Lord how He loves you, even when your thought life entertains adultery with a look of lust, or murder with anger toward another. Like Jesus, lift up the fallen one and help him to find a better way. Or, if foolishness has influenced you, let your real friends lift you up and walk with you in the way of the Lord. Compassion looks to catch someone doing good, and helps her grow into the best version of herself. Mercy offers hope!

“Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?” “No one, Master.” “Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin” (John 8:9-11, MSG).

“This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another” (Zechariah 7:9).


Heavenly Father, remind me of your compassion and mercy toward me, so I can show the same to other sinners like me, through Christ’s love, and in Jesus’ name, amen!


Who has been caught in sin and needs me to show them love, compassion and mercy?

Related Reading

Exodus 33:19; Psalm 51:1; Romans 9:15; James 5:11

Worship Resource

Brady Toops & Mia Fieldes: Lord Have Mercy


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