Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

05/16/2018

Randall Caselman 

Compassion

 

 God is a God of compassion: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” Over a dozen times in the New Testament, we find the phrase “He had compassion” referring to Jesus: compassion on the sick, the hungry, compassion on lepers, the multitudes as sheep without a shepherd, compassion on those who had lost loved ones, compassion on those caught in the grip of sin. It was Paul who admonished us to “put on a heart of compassion.” Peter says “do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult” but instead “be compassionate.” It was John who told us, “Whoever has this world’s goods and sees his brotherin need, and does not have compassion on him, does not have the love of God.”Who can deny that we, as children of God, are to have His love, be compassionate? What keeps us from being so? What are some things that squelch compassion?

 

 Pride and selfishness. There's no doubt that we live in a self-centered culture, a me-first, it's all about me, economy.  This is not new. Selfishness ruled in the first century! Listen to Paul as He tells us how to properly deal with this sin: “Make my joy complete by being a people of tenderness and compassion…Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Look not about your own interests, but place the affairs of others before your own.” Perhaps the best thing we can do here is ask God to help us put away our own selfishness by giving us a heart of humility and compassion.

 

 Prejudice and judging. Prejudice is a difficult barrier to overcome, it may have been instilled in our upbringing; but a sin that must be handled before we will reach out in compassion. Sometimes we see black or white or yellow, Israeli or Arab, the rings in their noses, belly buttons, eyebrows, tattoos, and we think, “These people are not good enough for me or my help.”Wrong! At the well, Jesus saved a Samaritan; he went home withZacchaeus; He forgave a woman caught in adultery; He brought salvation to Gentiles. There is a reason Jesus commanded “judge not,” because seldom, if ever, will we show compassion upon, or take the gospel to, those we have judged negatively.

 

 Fear and peer pressure. I wonder how many good works, compassionate moments, have slipped into eternity because of our own fear, or a concern for what others think? The priest and the Levite left the wounded man to die on the road because of fear. Peter shrunk back from taking the Gospel to the Gentiles out of peer pressure. What work of compassion are we leaving undone today because of fear or because we are concerned what another might think? Life is an unsafe road; but family, friends, neighbors, the lost, deserve our compassion.

 

 Apathy and complacency. We’ve all made excuses: "I really don’t have time for this; Why should I help them? Who is my neighbor?" We take better care of our pets than family and friends. It takes time, energy and a "want-to mentality" to be compassionate! People are worth it; children are worth it, parents and family are worth it. Yes, someone else might do it, but then someone else will receive the reward promised by God! “I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in, naked and you clothed me, sick and in jail and you visited me… As often as you did it for the least of these, you did it for me… Come you blessed of the Father… Take your inheritance prepared for you... Enter into the joys of thy Lord.”

 

 "Fixing our eyes on Jesus" includes more than just visually seeing Him, it includes having His heart of compassion. It's one thing to be a believer and come to worship each Lord's Day; it's another to have His heart, attitude, disposition, and behavior. May God help us to overcome these "compassion squelches" and become more and more and more like Jesus. And may He forgive us of yesterday’s failures. Amen?

 

—RANDALL CASELMAN