Did you know that God has equipped you with what you need to make a difference in the lives of other people? You will no doubt be surprised when you get to heaven at how many people have looked up to you and admired you. Right now, for good or for bad, you are making a difference in the lives of other people.
One of the most impactful ways we can impact someone’s life for the better is through compassion. What does life-changing compassion look like?
Let’s suppose for a moment that it was Friday night and you wanted to go to a movie. You’re running late for the movie because you got home from work late, and then once you put down the keys on the table, you forgot where you placed them. It was frustrating, but you did find them after about 5 minutes. You finally jump into the car and you’re on way to the theatre. You are making good time until you come up behind a blue car. You are on a two lane road with a solid yellow line down the middle which means no passing. The car in front of you is doing twenty in a thirty five mile an hour zone. You are starting to wonder, “Where did the person in front of you get her license?”
What’s going on in your mind at this point?
Would it make a difference to you, if you knew that woman driving that pesky blue car was heading home from the hospital to an empty house? Her husband of 40 years had just an hour before died at the hospital after being in an automobile accident. She didn’t have anyone she could call on to come and drive her home. She didn’t want to leave her car at the hospital. She was crying and driving 20 miles an hour in a 35 mph zone right in front of you, just trying to get home.
If you had of known this information, you would have still been late for the movie, but you probably would have had some compassion. You probably would have prayed for her.
What you would have done is that you would have put yourself in her place and thought what you would have needed if you had been her.
Having compassion means that we stop and think that there is a story behind every car on the road, every difficult person that makes your job a challenge, every person who cuts you off in traffic. There is a story behind the homeless lady behind the gas station digging through the dumpster. There is a story behind the lady seeking an abortion for an unplanned pregnancy. A story behind the guy viewing pornography on his bedroom computer. A story behind the neighbor’s divorce and your cousin’s bankruptcy.
Compassion is when, instead of avoiding people like those I just mentioned, we look for ways to be kind or helpful to them.
Compassion is when we pray for people instead of judging their motives or attitudes.
Compassion is when we care about the terrible condition of someone’s life enough to do something to try to make it better. Prayer can be compassion in action. So can giving someone a ride, buying them a meal, inviting them to lunch or to walk with you in the park.
Compassion might be a card sent in the mail, or a timely text message or email, or it might be a face-to-face visit in your home or at the coffee shop down the street.
Jesus showed us how to live a compassionate life in several places in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. One such story is found in Matthew 9, verses 35-38: “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Jesus did not just write people off as too much trouble to deal with. He did not blame them for their lives of disarray. Jesus did not tell people, “You made your own bed, now lie in it.” Neither did he say, “You really blew it. I can’t believe how anyone could do what you’ve done. You deserve to suffer.”
No, Jesus showed people – even people with bad character flaws and lives steeped in sin – that he cared about them. He healed them, tended to them, and showed them love.
Then he prayed for others (that’s you and me) who would do the same. “The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few.”
Will you ask Jesus to help you be more compassionate? I know I am!