Pity is a “feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others” (Webster). Pity is a response that we may have toward someone who is under a drastic calamity of some sort; it may be an issue forced on them by circumstances or other people, or it may be something self-inflicted or at least self-exacerbated.
But pity is only a door-opener to a response that makes a difference. That’s where mercy comes in. The New Testament term for mercy, according to Vine, means “the outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of him who shows it.” Two important components to note: the suffering one needs help and the one expressing mercy has the capacity to offer it.
There are some things we as humans cannot fix. But even in those situations, mercy can be shown through offering an ear to listen or supportive encouragement. In cases where we can use our resources to alleviate suffering, we are called to do so (Matthew 5:7). We cannot fix everything in the world, but in the context of our own life, there is plenty to do which ministers to others and represents the attitude of Jesus Christ.
On top of it all there is the wonderful reality of God’s mercy. When we were lost and without hope, He took His unlimited resource of mercy, and by His grace gave His Son to meet our deepest need. By telling others about Jesus, we can be avenues of God’s mercy to change hearts. Remember, whatever else we may engage in to serve others on earth, the most important message is always that Jesus died for them and has a wonderful way in which they can walk in a relationship with Him forever. Hope that shatters death’s power. That’s the important thing!