One of my joys in ministry is teaching the fourth grade girls Sunday school class at Lancaster Baptist Church. I enjoy incorporating many different teaching methods in our Sunday school class, and for a lesson on the Good Samaritan, I decided to use the element of surprise. On my way to the front of the classroom to begin the lesson, I would trip and fall to the ground. I expected my fourth grade girls to be sympathetic and helpful, then I could explain the definition of compassion and compare it to the Good Samaritan.
My act was flawless. I walked to the front of my classroom and fell, dropping all of my handouts, lesson notes, and visuals. But to my surprise, the girls just sat there. They were shocked and embarrassed for me. Instead of jumping to my aid, they froze in awkward silence. Needless to say, my great class introduction did not go as planned.
As I thought about compassion that day, the Lord taught me that sometimes we as adults respond the same way to others during their time of need or trial. When we see those in need of compassion, we do what my fourth grade girls did—we look on in awkward silence. We love the person, we feel bad, and we want to help. But because we don’t know what to do, we do nothing at all.
True compassion goes beyond a sympathetic feeling in my heart. True compassion involves action. We see this demonstrated by Jesus. He was moved with compassion (Matthew 9:36)—He did something about it! He healed those with disease and saved those who were lost.
How is compassion being displayed in your life today?
In Your Home
Often, it is hardest to be compassionate toward the people closest to us. Ephesians 5:33 commands husbands and wives, “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” We don’t always treat our families like we should, but our homes should be a picture of compassion. Does your daughter need help with her math homework? Does your husband need a clean house and a quiet evening at home? Ask God to give you a compassionate heart, and then, with the help of the Holy Spirit, seek for ways to demonstrate that compassion to your family.
In Your Church
Isn’t it easy to get into a routine when we go to church? We drop our Bibles off at our pew, drop our kids off in the nursery, line up for choir, listen to the sermon, and coordinate various details for church related events following the service. Have you recently stopped to notice the person sitting by himself in need of a friend? Do you display true, biblical compassion to those you serve at church, or are you just going through the motions? Galatians 6:10 tells us, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” The Lord can increase your burden and give you wisdom to know how to be a blessing to those around you. Don’t limit what God can do through you. If you stop to look, God will show you someone whom He can encourage through you.
Toward the Lost
We all know John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave….” We find the ultimate picture of compassion in this one phrase. God’s burden for us was displayed through action—He gave His Son. If Jesus felt that type of compassion for each of us as sinners, we should also live to show that compassion to those who don’t know Him. If you’re like me, God renews your heart for the lost during Missions Conferences or other outreach-related events. The missionary testimonies and displays remind us of the desperate need for Jesus in our world today. Sadly, though, my heart loses some of that fervor throughout the year. I have to pray to God for a compassionate heart that will actively share the Gospel with other people. Godly compassion is more than an emotion that comes and goes. It is a God-given burden that compels us to action.
When faced with someone who is hurting, do you respond like one of the fourth grade girls? Do you see a need, but tentatively look on in awkward silence? If so, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and guide you as you seek to demonstrate compassion to those around you. After all, it is because of the Lord’s compassion that you and I are able to show it to others! Lamentations 3:22 says, “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” I thank the Lord for our compassionate Saviour and pray that as we enter the fall season, you will be a vessel through which His compassion can flow to those around you!