“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.”
The first garment with which God wants us to clothe ourselves is “tender mercies.”
The general meaning of “tender mercies” is compassion, pity, or tenderhearted. “Tender mercies” is to put one’s feelings into action and words. Literally, “tender mercies” convey bowels of sympathy. The people of the first century believed that emotions originated in the stomach. We have an idiom that says, “I have a feeling in my gut.” Thus, “tender mercies” is to allow oneself to identify with others in their joy and pain. Empathy is the ability to identify with someone and put ourselves in their place; it is more than sympathy.
Mercy is grace in action. The idea is to appreciate and take action upon the grace that God put in our souls.
“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy” (Phil. 2:1).
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (1 Pet. 3:8).
God wants us to be full of compassion, full of pity toward others. One of the garments God wants us to clothe ourselves with is the garment of empathy. It is easy to develop a heart calloused toward others and become hardhearted toward people who are hurt. Since we are the objects of mercy, we should show mercy (Lk. 6:36). Christians are not to distribute compassion in small doses but to extend empathy to those in need.
God expects us to clothe ourselves with empathy.
Clothes make the man. Clothes in Scripture signify character (Isa. 64:6). One day, God will array the church in fine linen. Today, the first line of clothing God wants us to don is “mercy.”
The world is heartless toward those in need; it has become indifferent to suffering and hurt. People have become mechanical in our dealing with others. We are a number in the information age. Computers do not deal with my name but my number. A computer cannot tell how I feel. I cannot say to the computer that it has made a mistake. It simply sends me a notice of billing, and I pay it.
Even our medical doctors run patients through their offices without taking the time to know them as unique individuals. Do you have a heart of compassion for those who are around you?
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).