Tuesday, April 10, 2007

compassion

Compassion has the idea of suffering with someone and empathizing with them. Those who seem the most compassionate, I've found, are those who themselves have suffered. In America, especially in the middle class and above that, it's not as easy to have this kind of compassion. These people often care and I think they can care just as much. But they don't have some of the common experiences that others have, so that they know firsthand and identify well with those who suffer, such as in barely making ends meet and not being far removed from losing their home, etc. Not to say that the rich and middle class can't be touched by all these problems, but to say it is less common. And those who have suffered and received God's comfort, are to comfort other sufferers with that same comfort.

Compassion refuses to even pick up a stone, knowing one's own heart and life. Sin is never worth anything truly good. But after repentance (sometimes ongoing) it can be a means of identifying with others who have fallen into sin, helping them by prayer, love, as a friend and by one's loving, gentle, earnest counsel.

Compassion can weep with those who weep, as well as freely rejoice with those who rejoice. It takes others in freely and is honored to be invited into the lives of others. It is a heart of meekness and humility; it is the heart of Jesus himself, our good Shepherd, who wonderfully takes care of us, his sheep, and wants us to learn to show that same care to our families, each other, our neighbors and the world.

What would you like to share about compassion?

4 comments:

Every Square Inch said...

Our own suffering does help us understand the suffering of others and grow in compassion. I've observed it in my own life - it crucifies our pride and makes us better able to care for others in need.

L.L. Barkat said...

Interesting what ESI has said, because I was actually thinking that while in some ways my childhhood suffering made me compassionate, in other ways it made me hard of heart... I expect others to buck up, chin up, and be survivors.

Ted Gossard said...

Every Square Inch, Thanks. Your point about our pride being crucified is a good one. While we're to do that, or to have done that in Christ, it is these humblings that we hit, that do help us in that. To know ourselves is important, of course. And in Christ we're to have crucified (and continue to do so, I think) the flesh with its affections and desires. (Galatians)

Ted Gossard said...

L.L., Excellent point. Reminds me of the poor. In Scripture and in life we see that they more readily receive the kingdom of God as a gift (than the rich). But we also see that poverty can tempt people to steal (Prov 30:8-9).

I think a key for me is that the humbling we have is ongoing. Like Paul's thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment him, we can embrace those things that keep us in our weakness, clinging to God and his strength. So it ends up being that my surviving is ongoing and only in Jesus. But when I start thinking that I'm okay that's when I'm in trouble and those around me, really, I think.

Still does not nullify what you say, though. Some of us can't claim much success and know any ground we've gained has been slow, painful and only through grace and God.