In the King James version, the word “compassion” occurs 14 times – in the Gospels, alone…
In the ESV, 10 times…
In the Amplified 6 times.
Suffice it to say that compassion is a very important topic to God
I’ve come to the following conclusion:
Love is the hallmark of salvation (John 13:35)
Compassion is the hallmark of love (1 John 3:17-18)
Therefore, if there is no compassion, there is no salvation.
Where the Bible tells us that “God so loved the world…” (John 3:16) He had compassion on us! If God didn’t love us and have compassion on us, there’d be no salvation!
Everywhere Jesus went and in everything He did, He demonstrated compassion for those around Him. He looked into the hearts of men and loved them where they were and gave to all exactly what they needed.
His compassion was for the whole world, not just for the saintly.
No compassion. No salvation.
17 By this we come to know (progressively to recognize, to perceive, to understand) the [essential] love:that He laid down His [own] life for us; and we ought to lay [our] lives down for [those who are our] brothers [ in Him]. But if anyone has this world’s goods (resources for sustaining life) and sees his brother and fellow believer in need, yet closes his heart of compassion against him, how can the love of God live and remain in him?
18 Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity). (1 John 3:17-18 AMP)
This is a difficult message for me because it is a message of conviction that begins with me.
I consider myself a compassionate dude but I discovered this week that my compassion has been limited to whom I choose to have compassion on. Compassion is not reserved for the fortunate few but should be shed abroad TO all men BY all men.
Reserved compassion doesn’t reflect the God kind of love – that ain’t the God kind of compassion.
But more on that in a minute…
Compassion isn’t easy. It means stepping outside your comfort zone. It means examining the situation of others, placing yourself in their position, offering them encouragement, and helping them tap into the strength of the power of the risen Jesus. We have to realize that we – the church – have no hell to put people in
Wherever Jesus went, He showed compassion, not condemnation.
- When He met the woman at the well in John 4, he had compassion on the fact she had been married 5 times and was shacking up with another man.
- When He encountered the widow going to bury her son in Luke 7, He had compassion on her and raised her son from the dead.
- When He encountered the crowds in Matthew chapters 14 and 15, He had compassion and healed them and fed them.
- When He gave the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) and of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) the key to both parables was compassion.
- In the case of the rich young ruler (Mark 10), before Jesus told him what to do, it says He loved him
Now, Jesus is the Just Judge. If anyone had the right to judge, He did; and, yet, He didn’t.
We judge people. I’m talking about the Church!
We say, if someone isn’t cooperating with the police, that deadly force is necessary…
We convict the man of pulling the trigger without understanding what was on his mind…
We decide, if someone gets out of their race car and storms out on the track, they get what they deserve…
We conclude, that salvation is the only cure to depression and that people who are saved should not fall into depression…
Or we say that therapy is the only cure…
Then we condemn all people whose depression leads to suicide to everlasting hell.
We decide that Israel is justified in killing her enemies
And others deem the Palestinians are trying to hold on to a homeland.
There is truth in all these and, yet, the truth is incomplete.
As the Bible says, we see through a glass, darkly
And in all these suppositions, we lack empathy. We don’t take the time to put ourselves in the other guy’s shoes. We look at things myopically, yet we expect holistic solutions.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: empathy is the gateway to any successful relationship. If there is no empathy – no understanding – the relationship is flawed! And we wonder why we all can’t just get along!
We leap to conclusions, jump to judgment, and then run to gossip. It’s amazing that, with all these calisthenics, we’re not in better shape, LOL! But I digress…
I’m not talking about the world, I’m talking about the Church.
We have to do better!
The church should be the bastion of hope. The church should be the last place where judgment is found and the first place understanding should be found. The church should be leading in love. The Bible tells us that Jesus is coming for a church without spot, wrinkle or blemish but her saints are often the ones who stain, crumple, and smear her.
The church should be a hospital, not a courtroom. It should be a place of safety, not sentencing. We call our churches “sanctuaries,” which means a place of refuge but, instead, they are an extension of the court of public opinion. People often avoid the church because it is anything but a safe place.
In the wake of the tragedy of Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward, Jr., we must have empathy for what was going on in each man’s mind. Stewart may not be a typical “nice-guy” but I refuse to believe he’s homicidal. I also believe that Ward did not deserve to die as a result of his anger.
Regarding Robin Williams, I believe depression is a real malady just like cancer or any other physical disease. I don’t think the answer to the problem lies squarely in the wheelhouse of the spiritual or the therapeutic but lie somewhere in-between. I also think that those who think that Robin Williams “did not use his gift to glorify God” or that his suicide “gave him a ticket to hell” would do well to examine themselves – does all they do glorify God? And who is the arbiter of eternal destiny but God?
Concerning the events in Ferguson, Missouri – Michael Brown may not have been a squeaky-clean, law-abiding teen – and he may not have been cooperative – but he did not deserve to be executed for this transgression. I have deep compassion for the Michael Browns of the world – and their families.
Here’s that hard part I alluded to earlier: I’ve learned I have to have empathy for that police officer who shot Michael Brown. I’m uncomfortable with that. I don’t like that. Personally, I think he acted as judge, jury and executioner. But I am compelled to extend the love of Christ to him. So I must have empathy for him.
As for the events in the middle-east…well, let’s just say there’s more to the story for the Church than just siding with Israel. God loves everyone – sinner and saint. And Jesus died for the Palestinians just as much as He died for the Jews. We need to have empathy for both sides.
I believe we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem but we should just as fervently pray for the peace of all men.
I’m left wondering, where is the compassion? Where is the empathy?
We all want to have the right thing to say. We want to have answers. Sometimes, though, the answer is not an answer – it’s just listening. And in those instances where the answer is not a specific action – the answer always is love. Love never fails – neither does compassion.
© 2014 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)