Being More Compassionate

Being a caregiver requires compassion. The home health nurses that have come in throughout the week to check on my Mom have each clearly demonstrated their empathy, care and concern for my Mom as she recovers from her fall.

Me and Mom the Challenger

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

Compassion is something I see firsthand every time our 4th Friday outreach group travels down to the Union Gospel Mission Dallas to sing, share the Gospel, and pray with the men. It’s the oldest ministry of our home church (Trinity Bible Church Richardson) and thus sets the tone for what our church is all about. Our leadership believes in equipping the saints for the purpose of doing ministry in the world we inhabit. Our church body strives to see people grow closer to God and grow closer to others. Why? Compassion

You see, as a believer, I want you to know what I know. I want you to experience what I have experienced.  What is that? The compassion of God. Compassion is part of God’s nature and character. It forms the essence of who God is. I am led to be compassionate because God first showed compassion to me. The same is true for you.

Compassion is Shared.

Compassion is a human quality as well as a divine quality. Compassion refers to the tender mercies we show one another and that God pours out on us. Because of the mercy God shows us, we are fueled to demonstrate compassion.  Think of it—when you were your worst self, did the Lord not shower you with His tender mercies?  What greater demonstration of love exists than the compassion our heavenly Father showed us through providing atonement for our sins through His son, Jesus Christ? Jesus, in emptying himself of all that is rightly his all to die a sinner’s death on a Cross although He himself had no sin, is the greatest of all tender mercies. The Holy Spirit, groaning and praying on our behalf provides us with daily mercies. In response, we must share the compassion shown to us with those in our lives who need it, freely giving what is given freely to us.

Rice Laying Next to Danny's Ashes

The Scriptures make it abundantly clear in Deuteronomy that God expects His people—the Hebrews— to demonstrate compassion to each other and to the foreigners living among them. This concept was clear to the prophets and the men of God. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus teaches His disciples to show compassion towards anyone needing help. The lesson of compassion taught by Christ to his disciples is something that we as 21st century believers are expected to practice as well. After all, we are imitators of Christ.

Colossians 3:12-17The Message (MSG)

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

How can I help you?

Back when I worked at Babe’s Chicken Dinner House, I had the privilege of working with a guy named Rick Sanders. Rick would always ask people “How can I help you?” People loved that about Rick and loved Rick because of his show of concern for them. The world didn’t begin and end with him, but with them. His care for others is what made him a great leader.

Having compassion is not a difficult concept to grasp. It simply means that we have a sympathetic empathy and concern regarding the sufferings and misfortunes of others. It requires we live prayerful lives and nurture hearts of gratitude. To be compassionate, we must take our eyes off ourselves and try to see others for who they are and be prepared to meet them where they are—not where we think they should be. Bad things happen to people. The causes vary. But in their moment of need, we must be less concerned with what got them there and more invested in how we can help them where they are in the moment of their greatest need. Talk is cheap. Compassion endears us to others because how we treat others is what they will remember about us the most, long after our words have grown silent.

com·pas·sion

[kəmˈpaSHən]

NOUN

sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others:

synonyms: pity · sympathy · empathy · fellow feeling · care · concern · solicitude · sensitivity · warmth · love · tenderness · mercy · leniency · tolerance · kindness · humanity · charity

Compassion can change lives in a heartbeat

When it comes to homeless folks, I have compassion for these men, women, and children who struggle to have the basic necessitates of life that I tend to take for granted every day. My heart fills with compassion when I have the privilege of praying with a man possibly breathing his last breath or a child who has lost all hope.

It is that same compassion that drives Sweet T and I’s love for the ministry of Operation Christmas Child. You see, tonight, there are children who don’t know love at all. They don’t know that God loves them. They don’t know that you or anyone loves them. Their existence is hard. Their life expectancy is low. Their expected contribution to society is questionable. But it doesn’t have to be so. Compassion changes lives.

Me and T at the Ball Game

Our compassion can grow.

We can learn to be more compassionate by doing acts of kindness, by caring for others, by expressing our concern for one another. Acts of compassion fuel more acts of compassion. This is something that I have witnessed these past few weeks, taking care of Mom. Being a caregiver is not easy. The nurses that do this work for a living have shown me the definition of tender mercy through their loving kindness and acts of compassion in helping my Mom as she recovers. My wife, Sweet T, has demonstrated this as she has stayed strong and stood tall during this difficult time in our lives.

Their compassion makes me grateful. Their example makes me desire to practice greater compassion and be more caring. Tender mercies are something we could all use a little more of in this world we live in. I pray my compassion for others grows.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

home-office-336378_1920 grunge

Treating Each Other Better

Ultimately, how we treat others speaks loudly about our love for Christ.

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (ESV)

In ethics class, we are taught that ethics is simply a matter of determining right from wrong. The trick lies in how we decide what is right or wrong. As a Christian, my belief system is clear. What’s right and wrong and how I am to treat others is spelled out for me in black and white. There is no real way to confuse “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31, NIV).

holding-hands-752878_1280 edit

Demeaning someone because of their race or ethnicity or whatever is flat out wrong. Racism is a sinful scourge tarnishing our history as a people. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that ALL life is created by God and  EVERY human life has value in the eyes of the Lord. One race was not created superior over another. Red, yellow, black, or white—we’re all equal in God’s eyes. In Scripture, the Apostle Paul reminds us, we all fall short of the glory of God. None of us, apart from Christ, are perfect. Yet, God loves us, even in our broken and fallen state. The Lord delights in us, especially when we delight in Him.

Genesis 1:27-28 The Message (MSG)

26-28 God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
        reflecting our nature
    So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
        the birds in the air, the cattle,
    And, yes, Earth itself,
        and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
    God created human beings;
        he created them godlike,
    Reflecting God’s nature.
        He created them male and female.
    God blessed them:
        “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
    Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
        for every living thing that moveon the face of Earth.”

We long ago denounced the wickedness of slavery and decades ago defeated the evil ideology of Nazism. They have no place in our society. Yet, they continue to exist. Each time they raise their ugly heads, we must denounce them.  

We must treat each other better. 

Treating each other better is rooted in being humble and kind. Hatred and racism cannot exist in the presence of a humble and kind heart. Humility and kindness help us recognize we aren’t superior to one another. Humility and kindness lead us to treat each other better. 

“Humble And Kind”
(written by Lori McKenna)

You know there’s a light that glows by the front door
Don’t forget the key’s under the mat
When childhood stars shine,
Always stay humble and kindGo to church ’cause your mamma says to
Visit grandpa every chance that you can
It won’t be wasted time
Always stay humble and kindHold the door, say “please”, say “thank you”
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb
But always stay humble and kind
When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride
But always stay humble and kindDon’t expect a free ride from no one
Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why:
Bitterness keeps you from flyin’
Always stay humble and kindKnow the difference between sleeping with someone
And sleeping with someone you love
“I love you” ain’t no pick-up line
So always stay humble and kindHold the door, say “please”, say “thank you”
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb
But always stay humble and kind
When those dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride
But always stay humble and kindWhen it’s hot, eat a root beer popsicle
Shut off the AC and roll the windows down
Let that summer sun shine
Always stay humble and kindDon’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re going don’t forget turn back around
And help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind

Today, people all around the globe are ensnared in human trafficking and forced labor. In the U.S. and other developed countries, human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking, impacts an estimated one-third to one-half of all homeless youth under the age of 18.  If you watch porn or support the porn industry, you support human slavery. Did you know that? Porn is something that exists in the shadows and that is practiced in the darkness. Most of us don’t watch porn at work or at church or at the family dinner table. Yet, we all know it’s there. Porn hides in our midst. Just like racism. 

Yes, we’ve made a ton of progress since Abraham Lincoln proclaimed emancipation and Martin Luther King Jr. shared his dream. Even in their time, the Founding Fathers recognized that ALL people were created equal. Mired in an economy dependent on slave labor, they recognized they still had a long way to go to make that a reality. Truth is, while much progress has been made, there is still much more to do. We’re not there yet. 

blog-2288426_1920 atomic negative

Today, many people are frustrated by a system that seems too slow to change. Some see it as a time  to dish out old lies of the past, somehow trying to convince sane and reasonable people that one person’s skin tone is better than another. The events of Charlottesville this past weekend call us to do better. We must.

We need to start treating each other better. No one has a monopoly on love and respect.

Tim McGraw “Humble and Kind”

As a Christian and a Christ-imitator, I cannot denounce the hatred wrought by racism loudly enough. Jesus loved me while I was yet a sinner. God granted me grace and mercy when I did not deserve it. For me to think that somehow the color of my skin raises me above someone else is vile and foolhardy.  Brothers and sisters, we cannot continue to treat each other this way.  We cannot continue to make it a black thing or a white thing or a brown thing. Taking pride in our ethnicity and our culture is one thing; allowing our arrogance to divide us is another.  God loves you, just like God loves me. He loves you if you’re white. He loves you if you’re brown. He loves you if you’re black. More importantly, God forgives us, regardless of our race, ethnicity, gender, or national origin. When we believe in Jesus Christ for our salvation and ask God for His forgiveness, He does so joyfully, delighting in us, just as we are. It is really that simple.

Without forgiveness, we will find it difficult to move forward. The time has come to let our love for Christ speak clearly through how we treat one another. I am only one person unable to change the world alone. But, I can change that small portion of the world I’m in.  So can you; I believe you will. Godspeed. Go in peace. Love one another as Christ first loved you.

Prayer:

Father, we love you and shout your praises! Let us walk more humbly today, and love others like Christ loved us. Father, through your Son, Jesus, we know what love is and we know what forgiveness is. We can do better, but we need you to help us supernaturally overcome the evils of racism and slavery that besiege us. Forgive us for our sins and shortcomings. Help us reflect the love that you have shown us through your Son,  Jesus Christ and by your Spirit. Lift us up from the depths of darkness into the light. Help us see what we do not see, help us know what we do not know. Help us be kinder to one another and treat each other with a respect that can only come from knowing you and your Word. In Jesus name, Amen.

macbook-336704_1920 antonio edit

 

Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com. Edited with Pixlr.