One of the things I have learned to realize is that there is a very big difference between compassion and pity. And pity is not near what God is asking from us. The problem is we often let pity be the drive our of mission instead of compassion - something that I think drives our church to enable the our countries problem's instead of actually fix them.
The definition of pity is: sympathetic sorrow for one suffering, distressed, or unhappy. While the definition of compassion is: sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
When we pity something we can still feel the same level of sorrow but when we have compassion we can feel the distress and sorry on a deeper level. Jesus is asking us to show compassion! We are called not just to feel badly for someone's situation but to understand and know their situation.
On a mission trip once, I brought an interesting mix of youth. Some were pretty poor while others were truly wealthy. One of our assignments was to help in a soup kitchen - a pretty run down and poor kitchen that served some pretty question looking people. Those who were of the upper class, they pitied these people and that is what drove them to help. They felt better because they feed them and took away from the mission trip that they had done something that had made a difference. While the poor kids (some of whom had gone to soup kitchens themselves) had compassion for the situation. They had discussions with me afterwards as to how the community could go about helping these people to better themselves or how the soup kitchen could be better used. The fact that they could truly put themselves in these people shoes allowed them to understand to a deeper level the problems.
God, became human in Jesus not to pity us as a human race unable to stay away from sin but with compassion - so that Jesus, walking in the shoes of a human would know with
sympathetic consciousness what it means to be human and bear our sins.
As we strive to have more compassion then pity let us remember that we don't have to experience the same situation in order for us to have compassion but we do need to want to on a deeper level come to know and understand where the person is coming from.