How do you respond to photos of malnourished children in Africa and other regions of the world? How do you react when you see on television or the internet, images of street families striving to make a living? Do you shut your eyes? Do you gaze in the other direction? Perhaps you prefer to change the channel.
Now, how do you respond to that child who stretches their hand so you can drop a coin? maybe you stop, listen and assist where possible. Perhaps you ignore and mind your own business.
You know how you respond. In my case, I used to shun and go my way. But now I am changing. A new voice, a gentle voice, is communicating inside me. Deep inside my heart, I’m hearing and learning to listen. I’m learning to be compassionate. I’m learning to care a bit more.
Compassion is one of the most valuable qualities and yet difficult to acquire. Hard to attain since it is not easily understood.
When we hear the word compassion, our minds gravitate towards pity, considering a person less than we are. Less blessed. Of low dignity. Helpless…
This is completely opposite to the true meaning of compassion. Compassion actually means to suffer. To feel with another person, to feel the pain they are feeling, and act.
If we are to have compassion, we must sacrifice for its attainment. We must be willing to learn it. The best teacher of compassion is Jesus. He was exceptionally compassionate in word and indeed. He practised it as well as He taught it.
Let’s explore diverse ways in which Jesus practised and taught compassion.
Jesus touched and healed the sick
“Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, if you are willing, you can make me clean” Then Jesus moved by compassion stretched His hand and touched him, and said, I am willing, be cleansed….”Mark 1:40-41.
Jesus touched and healed the leper. It is worth noting that lepers were outcasts. They were insulated from society. People feared them. They pitied them.
Jesus’s compassion goes beyond people’s social-economic status. It goes beyond race, past physical appearance. It goes beyond the age for, he touches and blesses the children when others are ignoring them. (Matthew 19:13-15).
I hope we learn from Jesus who deliberately offered His time, focus and attention to all without restrictions.
I hope you know when you’re having satisfactory sleep under that roof, there are other human beings whose houses as well as beds are the streets. I hope you know there are people who are shut into systems that won’t allow them to have blossoming lives. I hope you know some didn’t choose that kind of life.
What if you’re moved by compassion and touch their lives? What if you be there? You see, you witness, you touch and feel. Feel their pain, their deprivation, their sorrow, their failed education…? You touch and feel, and mend their broken wings? Is helping them fly not admirable? Is it not descent? Is God not going to bless you more? Is this not true compassion?
Jesus fed the hungry
“I have compassion on the multitude because they have now continued with me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them hungry to their houses they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from far.”Mark 8:32.
I wish you know when you are eating buttered bread there are others who are agonizing from hunger pungs. I wish you know on the other side of the world a woman is trying to put “whatever” in the pot to prevent it from boiling over.
I wish you know when your boys and girls are eating from the fridge, other boys and girls are eating from the bins. I wish you’re recharged with compassion and touch their lives.
Jesus taught compassion
An example is the parable of the good Samaritan, (Mark 6:34). The Jews loathed the Samaritans. But this particular Samaritan, moved by compassion, goes past hatred and helps in relieving a stranger’s pain.
He beholds a need and acts on it. He goes the extra mile and gives the caretaker enough money to take care of the man while he is away. He promises to pay any extra cost when he comes back.
We can choose to get involved in the pain of others. We can purpose to care more. We can choose to abate self-interest for the sake of doing something glorious. Can you imagine how the world would change if we chose and walked this path?
Jesus literally shed tears for the unbelieving and the lost
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “if you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But they are hidden from your eyes…”Luke 19:41-44.
“Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ” See how He loved him.”‘John 11: 35-36.
The world is burning in sin. Maybe we can be a bit perceptive to the value of the lost soul. Maybe our hearts can be filled with compassion and tears of compassion fill our eyes.
What if compassion drives us to take the gospel of the compassionate Christ to the lost? To touch that one soul. This is the core of the gospel. Jesus commissioned us to do so. It has a reward.
Brothers and sisters, it is not enough to fold our hands around our chests, and burry our fists in our armpits and stand to watch. Nor is it generous to stand hands akimbo and look. Stare and say we are seeing. We understand. We pity them. We love them, and yet we are doing nothing about it.
This is not the compassion Jesus practised and taught. Love cannot flourish like this. What if we unfold our hands to open our hearts, and stretch them to reach out? Move into action, perpetually, every day, for our compassion to flourish.
I wish you remind yourself of this verse.
“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”1 John 3:17.
As you meditate on that, have a look at this beautiful quote:
“Before someone’s tomorrow has been taken away, cherish those you love, appreciate them today.”Tweet
God loves you!