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Learning to Be Compassionate People 4: The Receiving End of Compassion

Learning to Be Compassionate People Day 4: The Receiving End of Compassion

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17, ESV). 

Without a doubt, the receiving end of compassion is a beautiful place of blessing. But sometimes it can feel strange. Likely, none of us would say we don’t want to receive compassion, but sometimes when we do, it’s hard to know how to respond. 

On the one hand, it can be a very humbling experience, as it causes you to recognize how much you need the care and help of others at certain times in your life. But it can also make you feel uncomfortable or undeserving of the compassion of others. And sometimes, pride can be an issue when we receive compassion, just as it can be what holds us back from showing it. Maybe we think we don’t need someone else’s help or that we are capable on our own. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, no matter if our response to compassion is humility, awkwardness, pride, or—as it should be—gratitude, we have to remember that we can’t live life alone. God designed us to need each other; God designed us to need Him. Experiencing and willingly receiving compassion from others is part of that. 

In fact, why would we choose any other response but gratitude? Well, sin, of course, is the issue. It can and often will affect our relationship with others. But if we are seeking to glorify God, we should ask for His help to respond to the compassion of others with a heart of thankfulness. Having people who care about us is a gift from God, and He is able to show His compassion through people who act according to His Word and His will. If we are prideful or ungrateful in return, we may not only hurt others but hinder them from displaying God’s love. 

The Word of God makes it clear that He is the source and enabler of all compassion. When we show it to others, or when it is shown to us, His grace is on display. And the scriptural pattern is that thankfulness should come about as a result. This is what the apostle Paul wrote: 

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work … He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God (2 Corinthians 9:8-12).

No matter the reason for the compassion being shown to us, God is glorified when it is shown, and God is glorified when we are thankful for it. As we think of being on the receiving end of compassion, let’s look at a story from the life of Jesus. It emphasizes that responding to compassion with gratitude is a part of bringing praise to God, and that is meaningful to our Savior.  

“On the way to Jerusalem he [Jesus] was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well’” (Luke 17:11-19). 

When compassion is shown to us, may we echo the attitude of the leper who returned and gave thanks to the Lord Jesus. The fact that God allows us to experience His compassion through others is an incredible gift, so no matter what, let’s choose to be thankful for it. 

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