Living Effectively for Christ Day 4 – Choose Compassion
Yesterday we paused for a moment to think about what it means to pursue kindness. Compassion takes us one step further.
We can extend kindness to someone we do not know at all, someone we may never meet in person, possibly even someone who hasn’t yet been born. A friendly smile offered to a stranger in a busy airport terminal, paying the bill for the person behind us in the drive-thru line, or leaving a gift for future generations are just a few examples of kindness. It is positioning someone else to experience something good, sometimes for no obvious reason, giving no thought to any desired result. We simply choose to be kind.
Compassion goes much deeper. A compassionate heart notices someone else, but also recognizes their needs, sympathizes with their lack, hurt, pain, or difficult position, and determines to act, resolving to do whatever is possible to meet that need, to lift their burdens, and alleviate their suffering.
Pity sees the need. Compassion determines to do something about meeting that need.
We serve a God of great compassion:
“I will strengthen Judah and save the tribes of Joseph. I will restore them because I have compassion on them… for I am the LORD their God and I will answer them.” (Zechariah 10:6, NIV)
“They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.” (Isaiah 49:10, NIV)
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. hey are new every morning; great is [His] faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV)
“When [Jesus] saw the crowds, He had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” “Jesus… had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 9:36; 14:14, NIV)
“Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed Him.”(Matthew 20:34, NIV)
Jesus Christ is our greatest example. He demonstrated compassion when He healed people from physical suffering, when He impacted individuals with human touch and words of truth. He showed the greatest compassion for us (as lost, rebellious sinners) when He died on the cross. Through His sacrifice, He paid the penalty for our sins we could never pay for ourselves. He healed the broken relationship between us and God, granting us the security of eternal life we could never achieve on our own.
Without Christ, we were doomed, helpless, and defenseless. Because of His compassion, we enjoy peace with God and the abundant provisions He offers to His adopted children.
Our Savior calls us to follow His example, to allow His Spirit of self-sacrificial love, humility, and graciousness to flow through us so we can extend to others what He has given us:
“Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12, ESV)
“Comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4, ESV)
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32, NIV)
“In humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, ESV)
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” (Romans 12:9, NLT)
Like kindness, compassion will cost us. Compassion requires us to put aside any personal thoughts or agendas and place someone else’s need as our top priority. Compassion responds to prompting from God’s own Spirit with a willing reply: “Yes, Lord, use me. Grant me the ability to step in right here, right now, to help this person in their time of need. Through my humble actions, may this person experience the true heart and all-sufficiency of Jesus, their Savior.”
How is the Lord working to enlarge a heart of compassion in you? To whom might He call you to extend His compassion?
Ask Him to show you and trust Him to equip you. Today might be the perfect day to impact someone with the compassion of Jesus, with human touch and words of truth and life!