God’s Glorious Attributes
GOD’S INCREDIBLE PITY
By Rayola Kelley
Last month I talked about God’s great compassion towards us. He showed that compassion when Jesus became man to become identified to us, walked the earth as man to serve as our example, and went to the cross as man to identify with us in our spiritual plight in order to become the Lamb of God who would take away our sins.
It is easy to become quite sentimental about Jesus’ great sacrifice, but the judgment of the cross tells us there was nothing sentimental about what He did. There was nothing sweet about His suffering and there was no glory in His death because He was dying among common criminals. In fact, He was dying for, and in place, of all criminals, who from the time of Adam broke God’s covenant and holy Law. We have been told that we have all sinned, we have all broken the holy Law of God and as a result we are considered enemies of God and stand under a death sentence. The Law of God has judged all of us as being criminals and treacherous towards God and His Law (Romans 3:20-23; Ephesians 2:12-17). It declares we stand guilty as charged without any recourse.
This reality should break our hearts, keep us humble and realistic about the cost of our salvation, mindful of His grace, thankful for His mercy, appreciative of His faithfulness, and forever in His debt because of His unfailing love. It is clear that before the Lord saved our miserable souls, He showed great compassion while being longsuffering towards us in our foolishness, ingratitude, and lawlessness. He gave us the best, knowing that we might wear our “religious best” before others, while offering up crumbs to Him. He gave His Son while knowing we often keep the best for ourselves while offering to Him that which costs us nothing.
I sometimes marvel at how gracious the Lord is towards each of us. I know how far He brought me and that I still miss the mark even after the Lord’s years of working on and in me. Clearly, my life is under constant construction and no matter the strides I make in my Christian walk, I am still an imperfect human who constantly strives for perfection in an imperfect world, knowing that it will elude me until this body is put off and I am ushered into the glory of the Lord.
I had to accept that even though I strive to do my best when it comes to my life before the Lord, it will never be perfect. However, my imperfection gives God the avenue to show His mercy and offer His grace, while being compassionate towards me. Compassion brings a clear contrast between its counterparts of a miserable state, a despondent attitude, and an unhappy environment. Compassion will actually enter in and become identified with a person in his or her plight, or state, in order to transform the attitude and change the inward environment.
This brings me to another word that is a form of compassion: Pity. I am not talking about self-pity where the big “I” is turned inward to dote on the me who is in the center of the state of “MI–SElf where I RecYcle my old excuses of past miserable events so I can swim in the pool of utter MI-SE-R-Y. I can wear some badge that reads, “poor, poor ME,” and as long as I don’t invite anyone to my party that would not agree with my evaluation of my miserable lot, I can be quite noble in my suffering as I put on a brave face so others will not figure out it is nothing more than a big farce.
The pity I am talking about is not a pity turned inward that allows me to be some suffering martyr or victim; rather, it is the pity that is turned towards another who is truly in a vulnerable or miserable spot. The pity I am talking about is not a ploy to cause others to feel sorry for me; rather, it is the ability to recognize the vulnerability or need of someone so that I can enter in and show pity to them.
Compassion is the emotional ability to actually enter in to comfort, pray for, and encourage, but pity is the actual action of showing compassion. Pity is associated with the ability to commiserate with a person, not just in an emotional arena but in actually doing something to lighten the misery or to dispel the problem altogether.
When the “Good Samaritan” in Luke 10 had compassion on the victim left in the road, he entered in and showed pity to the victim by taking him to the inn and caring for him. Real compassion will end in one showing pity towards the vulnerable. One of the ways true pity is expressed is when one is spared from becoming ensnared or tasting judgment of possible pending consequences.
It is important to point out that God is ever ready to show us pity. Ezekiel 7:4 and 9 talks about how God’s eye will not spare His rebellious people, neither will He have pity on them. His eye is on His people and He wants to keep each of us from becoming ensnared in the traps of this world and tasting judgment, but when His people are being rebellious, they prevent Him and His servants from showing such pity. It is important to point out that the one response towards God that will dam up His pity towards His people is when they forsake Him. This is brought out numerous times such as in Deuteronomy 7:16; 13:8; 19:13, 21; 25:12, and Jeremiah 15:5.
As believers we know the promise that the Lord will never forsake us, but we need to remember what the Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed: Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” The truth of the matter is the world is designed to shake our faith, rob us of our peace, kill our hope, and destroy the life of Jesus in us so we will forsake Him. We have all that we need to stand on the Rock of Ages regardless of the storms the world sends our way. God will not let go of us, but we must always make sure our footing is on the foundation of who He is, ready to cling by faith to His promises as we continue to withstand with His Word and continue to stand because He is the truth to all matters.
David failed to show pity towards the vulnerable Uriah because of his sin with Bathsheba, and in 2 Samuel 12:6 he, in a sense, pronounced judgment on himself when the prophet brought an indictment against him by telling a story to entrap David that aroused both his compassion and anger towards his own actions. This shows us pity can turn into anger when it is in relationship to injustice.
This is why the people of Israel were warned about treating the sojourner right who was simply passing through and taking care of widows and the fatherless because such people were vulnerable, and as His special people they were to never take advantage of the vulnerable. God warned His people if they did not properly regard the vulnerable and they cried out to Him, He would kill them (Exodus 22:22-24; Deuteronomy 10:17-19;14:29; 24:19-21).
Today people may have a passion to help the vulnerable in the name of so-called “social justice” or “humanitarian crisis”, but such crisis has often been caused by lawlessness that causes justice to run amuck, which sadly leaves the most vulnerable open to be exploited. For the Edomites in Amos 1:11, God cast off all pity towards them because they helped the enemies of Israel. We must never aid the “Edomites” of today who are bent on destroying the moral fiber of America with lawlessness and exploitation. We can see in our own society especially in the areas of the widows and fatherless, that they are often being overlooked, while our future generations are being aborted and offered up on Satan’s altars of insane excuses, greed, and utter perversion.
The church has also dropped the ball in this area. Many are all about numbers but not souls. They are about pouring money into personal coffers while robbing the widows and leaving the fatherless to struggle in their vulnerable state. They may be giving to missionaries while failing to be faithful to the vulnerable sheep among them. Consider James 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
Pity is often the response to injustice and is shown when it refuses to be part of such wrong doing by taking advantage of the vulnerable. Genuine pity is honorable, and will respond out of grace by compassionately entering into one’s plight by lifting the oppressive burden in such a way that it leaves such individuals with their dignity. It becomes clear that where injustice is being leveled at someone, it calls for pity and when justice is present it calls for mercy, while righteousness will experience compassion.
If you want to bring the concept of the lack of pity being displayed in our nation today—do not look at the illegal, lawless immigrants who were told to stay home and who have no legal rights of inserting themselves into this nation, who are willing to endanger and exploit their own children, while doing it at the expense of American citizens, but consider the unborn babies who are one hundred percent reliant on the pity of their mothers, societies, and government. The reason that these babies now need pity is because women have bought the lie that they have rights to take away the right of the unborn child to live because it is nothing more than a glob of tissue, an unwelcome parasite growing in the womb. The result is, besides many children being sacrificed to the gods that be, some women are now void of motherly love that would value, protect at all cost, and nurture their child. It seems that the generation that needs to step up and take control and responsibility for this nation’s destiny are proving morally inept, lack honor, shun integrity, know nothing of hard work and sacrifice and is caving under the the vain, wasteful “me syndrome,” while being led by ruthless, evil leaders to utter destruction.
In Psalms 69:19-20 we see that pity is sought when a heart is broken and the spirit is heavy over reproach brought on by enemies. Once again, we see where pity is associated with the vulnerable (wounded) and those who are experiencing a type of injustice.
Psalms 103:13 gives us the key in which we can be assured of receiving pity from the Lord in our vulnerable times. The key is that we need to fear Him to ensure He will pity us in our susceptible times by showing grace and fighting for us when injustice is consuming us.
One of my favorite stories surrounding Psalms 103:13 was based on a true incident. It was titled, “Nobody’s Son” It would be proper for me to share this special story with you at this time.
From a western prairie home, a young father had gone on business to a distant town. He was detained overnight and as he laid down to sleep, he prayed for God’s protection for his young wife and baby alone at home.
At that very moment his wife was tucking the baby into its little crib. As she did so, suddenly she noticed a man’s foot and terror filled her heart, but on glancing around the room her eyes lighted on a text on the wall. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him” (Ps. 103:13). This assurance calmed her—God saw and God cared.
She knelt down by the crib and prayed in a low voice that sinners might be led to Christ. And that those who were meditating crime might repent and be saved. Then she prayed for God’s care over herself and her babe, claiming His power and promise to save. She then calmly sat down, a look of peace settling on her face.
With a sudden movement the robber stood before her. In a low, husky voice he told her he had heard her prayer for protection and that her prayer was already answered for he would not harm her. “My mother prayed for me, too, but now she is dead and I am a wanderer for whom no one cares. Oh, lady, pray for me as long as you live. Pray for ‘Nobody’s son” and he hurried out.
Years later as she was listening to a preacher tell a large company the story of his conversion, he told of the prayer that first awakened him, and she realized her prayer had been answered, for the robber for whom she had prayed so long was now telling others of the great salvation offered to all who will take Jesus as their own Saviour.
It was a joy to them to meet, and thanking her for her prayers, he told her how he was no longer “Nobody’s son” but a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
The fear of the Lord is what ensures what is wise, honorable, and just. This attitude deals in the reality of fruits and consequences. A person will reap what he or she sews, whether it is in this life or in the next. One who walks in the fear of the Lord does not want to dishonor the Lord by bringing reproach on His name, to stand before Him in shame, or in the place where judgment is about to be pronounced on unbelief and disobedience. The Word tells us to flee the wrath to come. When one has the proper fear of the Lord, there is an awareness that all will be recompensed for his or her ways and deeds.
Proverbs 28:8 tells us that the unjust may gain much through usury but they will be saving it up for those who will pity the poor. Those who show such pity stand on the side of being blessed because they are trustworthy in showing pity to those who can’t return such kindness. It is amazing how God shows His caring way through such people, proving that you can never out give or outdo God in His kindness, blessings, and grace.
It is also important to keep in mind when the Lord shows pity it can be for the sake of His name, or His covenants and promises. We see this in Ezekiel 36:21. Any time pity is shown for the sake of something to ensure the integrity of His promises or covenant, it is a matter of grace. God is not obligated to show such pity. There is no injustice present in which to set a matter right, there is no one seeking mercy to become an avenue for His compassion to be displayed, and all vulnerability is being swallowed by rebellion. Granted, the Lord may have to wait for the right generation to appear, but for the sake of what He has promised to saints that have gone on, He will insert Himself once again into history as a means to show His pity and bring forth His promises.
According to the prophet Joel, the Lord’s pity can actually be stirred up, but how can you stir up the Lord’s pity? Let’s see what Joel says in Joel 2:17-18, “Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them; wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.” We see in this case that the Lord became jealous for the Promised Land, as well as His reputation and witness among the heathen, and pitied His people. No doubt the Lord has shown, and continues to show pity to the Jewish people because of His covenant with Abraham and His jealousy over the Promised Land. I must note that in the near future every nation will taste the wrath attached to God’s jealousy over His land at the Battle of Armageddon.
What about America? It appears the land is spewing us out because of the abominations that are being committed. Is the church weeping at the altar, between the pews over its sins and the sins of the nations? Is it concerned about the heritage it is establishing or whether it is a reproach to the world? And, because of it, what kind of leaders stand behind the pulpits? Are such leaders, shepherds that truly pity the sheep like the Lord does, or ravenous wolves who are fleecing the sheep (Zechariahs 11:5-6)?
Isaiah 63:9 summarizes the importance of pity, “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the anger of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them: and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” It is in love and in pity that the Lord saves His people out of their affliction and redeems them.
In the KJV, there are only two Scriptures in the New Testament that mention the word “pity.” The first one is found in Matthew 18:33, which has to do with showing the same type of pity towards others that has been shown to us. The second one is found in 1 Peter 3:8-9, “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing, knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.”
As I consider the reality of pity, I began to see how much I needed it and have been a recipient of it. After all, I was an enemy of God, but made so because I was in a vulnerable state due to sin, and standing condemned by a death sentence I could not change. It was out of pity the Father sent His Son, and it was out of compassion Jesus entered into the plight of mankind and out of love and obedience He gave His life. As I considered why the word “pity” was only used twice in the New Testament, my conclusion was that all that was accomplished because of God’s great pity and compassion towards mankind could be summarized in one word: GRACE.