When I think of mercy, I think of Mother Teresa, who showed love to the neediest of the needy. Or my friend Thelma, who tells prostitutes in Manila about Jesus’ love. Or Phyllis, who chooses to teach in the inner city when she could make more money and have fewer hassles at a safe suburban school. Few of us will perform such heroic acts of mercy, but all of us can practice mercy (compassion in action) in small ways. For example:
- The next time someone shares a hurt with you, don’t just say, “I’ll pray for you.” Take them aside right then and pray for them.
- Whenever you write a check to that missionary you support, take time to write a newsy postcard. Your money is important, but so is your caring.
- Inquire at a local nursing home about patients who never receive visitors. Visit once a month. Take along a book of short stories, a magazine, or a newspaper, and read to them.
- The next time a friend visits you because she needs to talk, turn on the answering machine and ignore the phone. Your uninterrupted attention says, “You’re important to me.”
- While you’re raking your leaves, rake your neighbor’s as well. You might be easing the pressure of an overwhelming do-list.
- Is a friend’s car out of commission? Take her with you for a morning of running errands (run her errands, not just yours!), then treat her to lunch. When circumstances are working against us, it’s nice to know people are “for us.”
- Watch for people at church who sit alone, stand alone after the service, or otherwise look lonely. Introduce yourself. Make a special effort—outside of Sabbath School and church time—to make them feel accepted.
This article originally appeared in Discipleship Journal. Reprinted by permission.
© 2006 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists