And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. Luke 15:20 (ESV)
In the story of the prodigal son, we have three people: The son who left home, the father who allowed him to leave, and the brother who stayed. The errant son chose to return home. The father waited for that son.
He saw the shadow of his returning son off at a distance. He ran to greet him. I picture that father shouting the son’s name as he ran. As my southern-bred grandmother would say, the father “hugged his neck” and greeted him very warmly.
The father also showed compassion to the older son when he took the time to explain that he, the elder son, had been with him but the younger son had been lost and was found. I envision the father putting his arm around the older son’s shoulders, leaning in close to him as he talked.
This is a picture of how God greets someone who has sinned or backslid and repented. God shows compassion to us when we sin and then ask for His forgiveness.
As believers in Christ, we are to display his compassion to others: to those who hurt us, to those who might forget something important to us.
I had a text conversation with a dear friend recently. She was afraid that she and I had something to do that day and that she had forgotten. This friend and I were acquainted in high school. She babysat our son about four decades ago. We have gone to the same churches for over three decades. I reassured her that in the event she ‘spaced’ something, I would not hold it against her. Because we are friends, almost like sisters. In fact, sometimes people ask us if we are sisters.
When we go to the grocery store, I try to tell the cashier and the sack person to “Be blessed.” This is my way of showing compassion to those who work hard.