Daily our senses are battered by the horrors around us. These attacks come from all directions; newspaper, TV, radio, computer and sometimes what we even see in person. With wars, grisly murders and human desperation there seems to be no end to it. And at times we even become numb to it, at least until something hits so close to home that it is hard to ignore. The illness or loss of someone we know will stir us once again to our human compassion.
We will cry out to the Lord for them in the despair of the moment. We will pray earnestly, and perhaps we will shed tears in the moment of desperation. All kinds of emotions and feelings will flow through us to express what we are feeling. But then slowly, eventually those feelings seem to become smothered away to numbness.
For the most part I think we can hold onto compassion for our family and dearest friends, but something in us lets it leak away slowly for others.
As Christians we not only should fight to hold onto this part of our emotions but I feel we are called to continue these emotions for others, whether they are next door neighbors or those half way across the world. Even if it doesn't effect you directly, you are affecting those unknown faces who are your brothers and sisters.
What leads me to think this way?
From such books and verses as:
Exodus 2:6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children.
This child was baby Moses, sentenced to death by Pharaoh simply because he was Hebrew. The Pharaohs daughter went against what she knew was the law of her father, and not only saved but adopted him as her own.
Psalm 78:38 But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not. Yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.
These were the children of Israel after they had been released from their bondage, had seen many miracles, and still did not remain faithful in their hearts to Him.
He pardoned them, bore with them, and repeatedly stopped his anger towards them.
Psalm 86:15 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
This is part of David's prayer to the Lord asking for His gifts and mercy, but also acknowledging who the Lord is. That God is abundant in his compassion, that in His mercy He is ready to forgive. He delays His anger, not acting out from passion or a sudden resentment, then he endures the conduct of sinners long without rising up to punish them.
Matthew 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.
As Jesus looked upon the numbers of those that followed him from place to place, he saw their anxiety to be instructed and saved. He pitied them when he saw their weariness and fatigue, the results of labor and being burdened. These people were burdened with the rites of religion and the doctrines of the Pharisees. Under the ignorance and the weight of their traditions and the neglect of those that should have taught them, they were without care and attention. He compares them to sheep wandering without a shepherd. Judea was a land of flocks and herds. The faithful shepherd, by day and night, was with his flock. He defended it, made it to lie down in green pastures, and led them beside the still waters. Without his care the sheep would stray away. They were also in danger of wild beasts. They panted in the summer sun, and they did not know where the cooling shade and streams were. So it was with those people. Thus the compassionate Redeemer was moved with pity.
Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
This was the point where Jesus had just been told by the disciples of John's death. He had departed to spend time by himself and was followed by the multitudes, where instead of fleeing them, he reached out with compassion to them.
Matthew 18:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?
This is in reference to the servant that had such a great debt to his master that he could never repay it, but the master forgave him, but this same servant would not show the same compassion for a lesser debt that was owed to him.
Mark 6:34 And Jesus, when he came out saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.
They had no one to teach them and guide them. The priests and scribes were proud and corrupt. They despised the common people and neglected them.
Here we see that Jesus went even further than healing the sick. He taught them the truth and mercy of God. Even in his weariness his thoughts were not of himself but of lost souls.
Luke 10:33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.
The Samaritans were foes of the Jews. They had no dealings with each other. Set in strong contrast with the conduct of the priest and the Levite. “They” would not help their own countryman. “He” saw one who needed aid and denied himself to show kindness to the stranger.
The story of the Samaritan, we have heard it. But have we thought about it. How many times have we been the ones that have walked by. I read this and think, were these people bad or were they busy. Were they caught up in the day to day rush of life, like the rest of us. How many times have we witnessed things and continued untouched, unaffected, unmoved, thinking somebody ought to do something.
Luke 15:20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
This is the story of the prodigal son. He had spent his inheritance on women, booze and parties, returning home in disgrace in the hope that he could at least be a servant in his fathers own home.
Haltingly, perhaps even fearfully he nears home. Even though he is still far away his father sees him with the eyes of a parent that longingly looks towards the horizon for his child to return home. As his father runs to him he continues on with fearful steps only to be lovingly embraced in the arms of a father thankful for the return of his child.
1 Peter 3:8 Finally be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.
Peter is speaking to the church telling them that this is how they need to live.
As the last direction he reminds the church to have tender hearts towards the brethren, to be kind, to sympathize and to regard one anothers welfare.
Luke 19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city and wept over it.
I feel here that Jesus cried out of compassion, knowing full well that there were those that would choose to ignore all that he would offer to stay in sin.
There are so many more spots in the Bible that speak of compassion, in my mind making it a necessity not just a social niceness.
And as my daughter so eloquently pointed out, life is very short. You may not get another chance to show compassion to that person, so if you see a window to show compassion, jump through it. You could change that person's soul.
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