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I have been thinking today a bit about compassion, especially in how it relates to God.
If you look it up in the dictionary, you’ll see that compassion is defined as: "a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering." You’ll also see that compassionate is defined as” 1) having or showing compassion or 2) to have compassion for; pity. Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that little true compassion is found in the world today.
Sure, there are a few agencies in operation that claim to be showing compassion and they are no doubt doing the best that they can, but I have to wonder just how many are operating out of true compassion. I think the best place to find out what true compassion is, is to read about it in the Bible and how it relates to God and who He is.
Let’s take some time out and read Psalm 103. You will see in verse 2 of Psalm 103 (NIV) that we are reminded to not to forget God’s benefits. One of those benefits, as listed in verse 4 is that he redeems our life from the pit (hell) and crowns us with love and compassion. If you look up the definition of crowns as it is used in this sense, you will see that it means: 1) To put a crown or garland on the head of. 2) To invest with regal power; enthrone. 3) To confer honor, dignity, or reward upon. In a very real sense, this means that God has put this love and compassion upon us. It is something he has conferred or given to us, rewarded us with. It is there all of the time, it is something we wear, it is an adornment, if you will, like the crown that a king or queen would wear. It is something that is of beauty, to show that we are something special in his eyes, and consequently, if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, to the world.
Now, let’s move on to verse 8 of Psalm 103. We will see that another benefit or characteristic of God is that he “is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” I have come to realize that too many of us, due to our circumstances or whatever the case may be, have gotten into a mindset that God is a mean old man upstairs just waiting for us to mess up so he can bop us on the head with a big stick! This is the lie of the devil! He wants us to have this mindset about God to keep us from seeking his face, praying to him, praise him and all of the other things we need to do in our relationship with our Lord! You see, if we are afraid God is going to bop us on the head, we will be afraid to approach him and build that relationship with him that he longs for with us.
It’s one thing to have the “fear of the Lord”, but it’s another thing entirely to be afraid of the Lord! We know, as the Bible teaches that fear is not of God, and he has not given us a spirit of fear. So, obviously, when we are experiencing irrational fear, it is from the devil.
We have already seen that God has crowned us with love and compassion, and God abounds in love. So, it only makes sense when we read 1 John 4:18 - "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." What better way to keep us from experiencing that perfect love in God by making us afraid of him!?!?!?
Now, let’s look at verse 13 of Psalm 103. We see that as any father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. Not having had much compassion bestowed upon me by my earthly father, I find this kind of difficult to comprehend. But if you think about how fathers ought to be having compassion on their children, then perhaps you have a good idea. I think it’s probably even slightly incomprehensible though, because our finite minds cannot fully understand the compassion, the love, the grace that God has bestowed upon us. Still, if we are saved, the Bible tells us that we are children of God, so we need to trust by faith, that God the Father has the compassion for us that we need. We need to believe it; we need to accept it.
There is a lot more about God’s compassion in the Bible, but I want to close this off with a final thought. Read Matthew 9:35-38. We see here that Jesus was going through all the towns and villages, teaching in the synagogues and preaching the Good News and healing every disease and sickness. “Why?” you may ask. Look at verse 36 … “when he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He saw they had need. He saw that they were harassed and helpless. He was able to do something for them and he did. Love and compassion are like that. Through God enabling us, we are able to have such compassion and love for people that we can reach out and help them.
The issue is, will we? It’s important that we do what we can and minister to people who are in need as best we can. We are shown several examples in the Bible by Jesus as to how we are to be, and in so doing, we are given the opportunity to tell someone about Jesus and how he can meet the needs that you cannot. Salvation...! That person will thank you for all eternity for telling them about Jesus
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