Walk a Mile in My Shoes
One evening author and motivational speaker Stephen Covey boarded a subway train in New York to make his way home as usual. At one stop, a man and his three children boarded the train. The man took a seat and immediately took a position with head in his hands and staring at the floor. Almost immediately, his children began running wild and generally causing havoc among the people on the train. Everyone was giving the father the evil eye but he didn't seem to notice as he just keep staring at the floor. Finally, Covey spoke up and rebuked the man asking him if he couldn't control his children and didn't he know they were bothering everyone on the train. The man woke up from his daze and apologized for his ill-behaved children. Then he explained, "We just left the hospital where their mother just passed away. I guess I was too deep in thought to notice their behavior." Covey apologized to the man and began helping him with his children, as did the others within earshot of the conversation.
When the bible speaks of mercy it carries with it the idea of getting inside a person's skin and really understanding where they are coming from and what they need most. In short, walk a mile in their shoes.
When it came to our salvation this is exactly what Jesus did. “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17 NIV) Jesus "walked a mile" in our shoes.
"For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. 14What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." (James 2:13—17 NKJV)
This is exactly what Jesus meant when he addressed the hypocritical Pharisees who condemned him for eating with "tax collectors and sinners." Jesus reply was, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." (Matthew 9:12—13) Jesus didn't care much for the "righteousness" of the Pharisees. They did things right for the wrong reason. Jesus desires that we do things for the right reasons.