The Privileged Life: The Call to Compassion

“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another…” (1 Peter 3:8a)

Do you consider yourself to be compassionate?

When I want to describe truly compassionate people, I think of pastors, nurses, missionaries, counselors, food pantry volunteers, and others who are “in the trenches” with people who are suffering and need help.

I think of those who are good listeners, who take the time to be quiet when their friends need to talk through a problem…those who comfort others with a hug and friendly word…those who empathize with the sorrow of others.

Unfortunately, I have to confess that compassion is not one of my strong suits. I’m not wired that way. It takes a huge amount of effort to keep my mouth shut, to have any empathy for another’s pain…my personality is better suited for parties. That could be a very good excuse, until ol’ Peter taps us on the shoulder with the commandment to have “compassion for one another.” Uh oh, I guess that means me, too.

So, what does real compassion look like?

Merriam-Webster defines compassion as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”*

The Holy Scriptures go further. They show that compassion is God-driven, that it’s one of His key personality traits. The Psalms describe His compassionate nature as gracious, slow to anger, rich in mercy. The New Testament gives several examples of where Jesus was moved with compassion for individuals and multitudes—He responded by healing, feeding, comforting, forgiving, and encouraging. The writer of Hebrews describes Christ as our “great High Priest,” One who sympathizes with our weaknesses. He was tempted as we are, every day, but without sin. Through Him, we can boldly come to His throne of grace to receive mercy and help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

What strikes me about these descriptions of Jesus is that, in every circumstance, He couples the desire to help with action. Jesus’ brother James watched Him perform miracles out of true compassion; James then admonished us to “walk the talk”: “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” (James 2:15-16)

As Christians, we’re called to put feet to our words, to flesh out the body of Christ here on earth. We might “feel” sympathetic to others, wanting to help…but if we’re not acting on those desires, we’re not really loving Jesus or others. Our testimony falls flat, the Gospel suffers.

We need to remember we’re on the receiving end of God’s compassion. It’s a huge privilege—He loves us and cares for us, even though we deserve nothing. The least we can do is share some of His compassion with others.

Think of ways this week you can reach out to others, acting on the desire to alleviate at least a little of the suffering in this world. You don’t need to travel far…there are needs right next door. 

And, I encourage you to consider supporting Compassion International, to commit to sponsoring a child in another country—a soul you can touch for Christ, even if you never meet in person. As a sponsor, you can send monetary support, gifts, prayers, and letters. You will impact the life of a child in a destitute situation, sharing the love of Jesus with this young person in word and deed. For more information and to sign up, go to https://www.compassion.com

Whatever needs God presents to you this week, think of His example and follow through with a commitment to make a difference in this world for Him. As you share His compassion, you’ll find it to be a huge blessing to your own soul. 

Gracious and merciful Jesus Christ, we praise You for Your compassion—for Your outpouring of forgiveness over our sin-cluttered souls. As You show us opportunities this week to share Your love for others, put wings to our desires and call us to act swiftly in deeds of mercy. Help us to see this as a true privilege, to love You well. In Your name, Amen.

*https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compassion

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© Copyright 2021 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

3 thoughts on “The Privileged Life: The Call to Compassion

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  1. Thank you for the reminder to follow through on the promptings of the Holy Spirit when He nudges with promptings of practical help for someone else. I need to focus on immediate obedience before I get busy and forget. Thanks again!

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