"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Matthew 5:7
In the well-known story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), we're shown three components of mercy.
1. See the need.
"A priest...saw the man and passed by on the other side."
"A Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side."
"A Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him..."
2. Feel compassion.
"...when [the Samaritan] saw him, he took pity on him".
"He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him', he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'" (10:34-35)
Two of the three men in this story saw the need and do nothing about it. They didn't even feel anything when they saw him (that we know of). Both of those men were religious men: one was a priest, and one was a Levite. You'd think they would have been the one to take care of the beaten man, but they ignored him and went on their way. I've heard two morals to this story. First, compassion by itself doesn't help anyone. Compassion should lead to action. Second, its easy to get distracted by 'ministry' (and all the programs that go with it) and miss the point: to help people.
Both morals from this story are a challenge to me. I usually feel compassion for people who are in bad situations or who need help, but I rarely do something to help those people. I keep myself pretty busy with the events and programs going on in the church, and in doing so, I forget that its the kids that are important-- not the logistics, the food, the games, etc.
The sponsor who taught this lesson in Sunday school challenged us to keep our eyes open for ways we can help people. We need to get used to acting mercifully in small ways so that we "build up" to acting in bigger ways.
"'Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?'
The expert in the law replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.'
Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'"
Luke 10: 36-37