What to Wear as a Child of God: Compassion
Our Compassion children have come from South America and, most recently, from Haiti. Each of my children has (with me) sponsored a Compassion child. Next will be my grandchildren.
I love what Compassion does: serve, meet need needs and develop children, working with churches in local communities to make specific provision. I enjoy writing and receiving letters to our girl in Haiti, “meeting” her family, understanding her situation. Someday I hope to visit.
I think Compassion is appropriately named to correlate with the biblical emphasis of compassion. It demonstrates what I believe Paul is talking about when he tells us, “…as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion.” (Colossians 3:12)
The English dictionary defines this as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”
But God’s Word adds much richness to this word. Scriptural nuances include to suffer what someone else suffers, to sympathetically participate in grief. It is closely tied to grace.
An emotional expression of crying and feeling with someone who is hurting conveys compassion and includes the intent to help, a will to change the situation.
A mother's ( Isaiah 49:15) or father's (Psalm 103:13) love and feelings of pity and devotion to a helpless child embody a deep emotional feeling seeking a concrete expression of love.
The prodigal son's father had compassion on him (Luke 15:20). The Good Samaritan acted compassionately toward the injured traveler (Luke 10:33).
The true model
Jesus lived out compassion throughout His ministry:
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)
“Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.” (Matthew 20:34)
“I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat.” (Mark 8:2)
This is what God has called us to. To put on, or clothe, ourselves with compassion. To live out the feelings of care, concern and empathy in action to benefit those we love, are concerned for, or just encounter with a need.
Most of us have compassionate feelings when we see loss, hurt, need. Jesus asks to take the next step, to put feet to our empathy, to do something in response. To “wear” our compassion.
Personally I’m usually too busy. Or distracted. Or tired.But God has given me some opportunities. By sponsoring children with Compassion. By taking time in the moment to pray for a need expressed. To listen as a friend pours out her heart. To share my abundance of clothes and things with those with less. I encourage the members of our Prayer for Prodigals community to treat their loved ones compassionately.
Or as I (hopefully) did with Robert last night.Steve and I stopped at McDonald’s halfway through a long drive home. As we reached the door I saw the bike covered with camo backpacks and blankets. Then inside I saw who it belonged to—he was finishing a cup of coffee.His name was Robert, a Vietnam veteran, also covered in camouflage. I gave him some money, more than he usually received but far less than he needed. But then I gave something important—a listening ear, some visibility, a little dignity.
He told me his story, even as people coming in stared. One unfair, hard luck situation after another. I believed him—why would he lie to me? I left him with a prayer and blessing.I hope I was wearing Jesus’ style of compassion.
What about you? Are you wearing compassion?
c2016 Judy Douglass