Compassion

shot of two women hugging affectionately by an open van

Categorized Compassion

When a person lives a worldly life, that person is subject to worldly compassion. Worldly compassion is not an act of love but a tool to be used. The well-known passage of Scripture called “the parable of the lost son” (Luke 15:11-32) teaches us many lessons, one of which is the damage from categorized compassion.

But no one gave him anything.

Luke 15:16

The son took his father’s inheritance while he was still alive and spent all of his money partying. Ending up destitute and at the very bottom of society, he had no money and, due to prejudice, he was in a category unworthy of compassion – he was a Jew outside of Israel or Judea (see v.13).

Intentionality

Worldly compassion provides benevolence to people in socially approved categories, and it is withheld from people who find themselves in classes that society has deemed not deserving compassion. Our world is the same as that of the prodigal son. This is not true for the body of Christ.

To effectively give Christian compassion, we must do so with intentionality. Intentionality means our thoughts, desires, and hopes compel us to seek out opportunities to express Jesus’ love to any person in need.

Great Acts of Compassion

A historian of the early church, Eusebius, recorded in “The Church History” that during the plague,

All day long some of them [the Christians] tended to the dying and to their burial, countless numbers with no one to care for them. Others gathered together from all parts of the city a multitude of those withered from famine and distributed bread to them all.

bible mesh

As a means of caring for those who were ill, St. Basil of Caesarea founded the first hospital (c. 369). Christian hospitals grew apace, spreading throughout both the East and the West. By the mid-1500s, there were 37,000 Benedictine monasteries alone that cared for the sick.

bible mesh

Compassion Through Education

Of course, God has called countless Christians to demonstrate compassion through education. In America, Harvard and Yale were founded by Puritans, Princeton was founded by Presbyterians, and Brown University was founded by Baptists. Oxford University, Cambridge University (founded in 1209 AD), University of Edinburgh, and Saint Andrews were all founded by and for Christianity in the UK. Of course, we can’t forget the hundreds of universities founded worldwide by the Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches, such as the University of Notre Dame, the Catholic University of Lyon, the University of Vienna (founded in 1365), and Saint Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary.

The Most Prolific Compassion

Still, the most extraordinary undocumented Christian compassion comes from you and all faithful Christians. Our heart is not splintered; we do not practice socially categorized compassion. Because “For God so loved the world,” we must too.

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child crying

Don’t Cry

12 A funeral procession was coming out as he [Jesus] approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. 14 Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” 15 Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Luke 7:12-16

The Hebrew writing style is to put the primary point, event, or reason in the middle of the account or story. The first part prepares the reader for the key point, and the remainder shows the reader its effect.

Luke gives us a brief account of Jesus bringing a dead young man back to life. The primary event is found in verse thirteen, where Jesus, filled with compassion, stops the funeral and says to the widow. “Don’t cry.” We may be inclined to think that the miracle was Luke’s point, but the miracle was the result of Christ’s compassion. The miracle does testify that Jesus was and is the Messiah, but Christ’s compassion tells us about His heart.

Jesus is the same today. When He looks upon a brokenhearted believer, He has the same heart. His action may differ from what He did for the widow, but His compassion is no less. We find our greatest comfort in Jesus. In times of distress, run to Him. In Jesus, you will find the comfort you need.


Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

road sign "No Way"

Being Misunderstood

I was looking back over some of my posts, and I came across one titled, “Misunderstood.” I had written that post a couple of years ago, so I thought I’d revisit it. But as I read, I felt there was more that needed said. So, this is “Misunderstood 2.0.”

We are heading into the year-end holidays and if there is ever a time when we know we will, at some point, be misunderstood, it’s during this time of the year. To set the stage, here is an actual personal experience.

One unusual morning for me, I sat down beside my wife on the edge of our bed, as she was getting dressed, and said, “Good morning.” She was suspicious of my atypical behavior since I am usually up early and busy by the time morning actually occurs. So, she asked warily, “What do you want?!” My random gesture suddenly bloomed into confusion and an issue for us both. Let me hasten to say that we share a wonderful marriage and still love and enjoy each other’s company.

Not being understood has become a national epidemic. So many are so tired of being so misunderstood that it has caused a nation of people that will blow their lids if their fast-food order gets messed up. It has become somewhat unnerving to shop in stores or attend public events because we never know when someone there will reach their boiling point.

The Misunderstood Jesus

Not being understood murders relationships. Being understood sometimes requires us to recognize changes that we are unprepared for. Jesus was very familiar with this problem. Christ’s own mother didn’t understand Jesus, her son. We find this in:

And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they [Jesus’ parents] did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.

Luke 2:49–50

Now think about this: Jesus is the Word of God John 1:1, yet throughout his earthly ministry, people didn’t understand Him. Even his apostles, with whom He invested so much time and energy, continually didn’t understand Him. We read in Mark 9:32, “But they [the apostles] did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.”

With Jesus as the Word of God, it is our job to learn His language, so we can understand Him. Often, we stumble through passages of the Bible that make no sense to us. Our first reaction is to judge God – hey, you know this is true. We interpret His Scripture using our way of thinking and our language, but we need the Holy Spirit to help us interpret God’s Word.

When we read in Matthew 15:27: She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” It’s easy for us to misunderstand the Word of God. The best approach is to always accept the Scripture as true, and then look it up in at least two commentaries. The mist will rise, and you will find the truth and purpose in those words of God.

The Misunderstood Me

Effective communication is difficult and often requires us to navigate through a minefield knowing one misstep will blow up the whole conversation. To effectively understand someone else requires us to use empathy. We must learn to understand what the other person feels even if we have no clue why they feel that way. And when someone speaks emotionally, we should remember there has already been a whole conversation in their head that we weren’t privy to.

God’s Word says that we should weep with those that weep and rejoice with those that rejoice. Empathy does not mean that we become like the other person, but it does mean that we learn to feel and understand their emotion behind the words they speak. Now you may be thinking, “Great, but what about me?”

Love covers a multitude of sins. If we want to be understood, then we must be listened to. For that, we need to bathe our conversations in love, mercy, grace, and joy. Those aren’t trite words. Seriously, people stop listening when we speak our thoughts “in the negative.” If they don’t listen, then we will be misunderstood.

As you know, being a Christian is a way of life, not some rules to remember. Someday, and it may be soon, we will be giving an account to Jesus for what we did with our life. Let’s all live life to the full in Jesus. That will help to balance our life’s accounting book.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 


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a bubble floating in the air

Bubbles

Okay, I have a confession to make. When I was a young boy, I liked bubble baths. I know, from birth, I should have been hard as nails, but when I was five, maybe even six, I loved playing in a bubble bath. Whew. Now that that’s off my chest, let’s continue.

When I played in a bubble bath, I carried out nautical maneuvers that made Admiral Nelson’s strategy for the Battle of Trafalgar to be both insipid and uninspired.

Bubble Study

I also studied the bubbles. Each had rainbow sheen, and they seemed to float effortlessly while each bubble easily joined with other bubbles. It is this aspect I want us to consider today.

Based on my study of the Bible, I am convinced that each Christian should live as a bubble. I don’t mean we should live in a bubble as that’s contrary to a command of Christ’s (John 17:15).

Bubble Traits

We should be easily moved by the Holy Spirit (John 3:8). The cares of life should not weigh us down or chain us to the death in this world (Hebrews 12:1).

We should be transparent, like a bubble. People should easily see through us and see Jesus. We should not carry darkness in us that blocks the light (Matthew 5:16). For Jesus is the light of life (John 8:12). Our lives should not be as a bucket that blocks the light of Jesus (Matthew 5:15). And we should not have anything in us that distorts the light of truth. Sin clouds our transparency, so that must be dealt with quickly.

As a bubble, we are covered by God’s promise, the promise God made and established by the rainbow (Genesis 9:13). In God’s promise we are no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1)! We live within God’s promise.

Just as bubbles easily move about, they also easily congregate (Hebrews 10:25). One connects with another and a third connects with both. Soon, these bubbles coalesce and become a congregation, shaped by their Master’s hand. That first bubble is still in there, but it’s not what is apparent. What is apparent is a congregation that remains nearly weightless, still able to be moved by the breath of the Master.

Bubble Assassins

And when the time comes, our bubble pops, but not without a remnant. When our bubble pops, the rainbow promise that has held the bubble in its visible form deposits its promise on the thing that caused its demise (Acts 7:60). Our bubble is no longer visible, but what it was is simply not seen (2 Corinthians 5:8). It has left its promise upon its assassin and has been transformed into its new life, a life in unison with all the other bubbles that went before it (Hebrews 12:1).

Bubble Story

Yes, there is a message for us in bubbles. No matter what we look at, if we really look, we will find Jesus.

Photo by Braedon McLeod on Unsplash


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stone bench with the word "compassion" carved in it

The Compassionate Man

There once lived an exceptional man. He was compassionate to everyone he met. He always spoke words of encouragement. And from the time he was just a child he helped people, even adults, find their talents. Not just his parents, but all who knew him spoke of him as extraordinary.

As time passed, he grew in stature and in strength. His mind was sharp, he could comprehend everything. And he was a teacher. He would take the things he knew and then instruct people, though often his teachings were cryptic. Nevertheless, his followers were sure he was teaching deep truths drawn from wells of wisdom. Not just his teaching skills attracted his followers, he also was a deeply devout man. People from his hometown were rather indignant towards him because of his fame. After all, they’d known him since he was a baby. Still, his notoriety spread throughout the land.

As he matured, he developed a small, tight nit group of friends. They spent most of their time together, and he taught them even more than he taught others. But as so often happens, his popularity created envy in some people. The more his popularity grew, the more his detractors hardened their determination to bring him down. They wanted to see him squirm.

Now the compassionate man lived during a time when people could be executed just for what they believed and spoke. So, this man’s enemies became determined to not just make him squirm, they wanted him dead. So, they hatched a plan and got the wheels in motion to kill the compassionate man. And they did.

The compassionate man was brought before the public, and the crowd was merciless; we know how vicious anonymous people can be. The cruelty of the crowd knew no limits, and his enemies reveled in the compassionate man’s pain. They hoped for a protracted death, suffering moment by lengthy moment, but they were disappointed. The compassionate man died a rather speedy death, as public executions went in those days, so long ago.

After his death, the compassionate man was taken away and buried, and that’s the end of the story. Now you may have thought I was writing an allegory about Jesus, but I wasn’t. What I hope I communicated is that no one could ever redeem us, regenerate us, and reconcile us to God except Jesus. Even the compassionate man couldn’t do that – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)

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