Compassion makes a difference!
Our first Joshua Generation characteristic for the new year, is COMPASSION. Our slogan for the month is the title of this article, Compassion makes a difference! This week’s memory verse is 1 Jn. 3:17.
This slogan is taken from the thought contained in Jude 22-23 in the KJV. While the literal translation of this passage is somewhat different, there is no question that the inspired writer is saying that compassion plays a big part in work of saving the souls of others. Souls are to be gently led along to understand the truth and its application to their lives.
We see Jesus practicing such compassion when he had healed the blind man of John 9. A little while later in the day, or perhaps a day or two later, the blind man was cast out of the synagogue by the Jewish leaders because he acknowledged Jesus to be from God. When Jesus learned of the man’s plight, he sought him out and led him to believe on him as the son of God.
Consider the compassionate way he dealt with the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11. He taught her not to sin while showing his care for her physical welfare and already bruised self-image. I like to think she was so moved by his method of dealing with her that she followed his instruction to “sin no more.”
His brief encounter with the rich ruler has impressed us many times with the words in Mark 10: 21. Jesus felt a love for this man who would come, bow down to Him and acknowledge Him as master. Through faith’s ear, you can hear the gentleness, and perhaps, sadness, in His voice as he tells him to sell his possessions. Compassionate feelings and words continually marked the work or our Lord.
It is true, in Jude 23, we learn that some more hard headed souls can only be saved with much more sternness and directness. Even in such a case, it is compassion that moves us to care about the condition that others are in in the first place. This is also obvious in Jesus’ work with the prideful leaders of the Jews. With exceptional hardness and condemnation, Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees in Matt. 23. But then listen to his words that show his compassionate motivation in verse 37. “O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would have gathered you as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but ye would not. Behold, your house is left to you desolate.”
Jesus had compassion on the multitudes because they were as “sheep having no shepherd” (Matt. 9:36). Compassion causes us to care. Hence the cliché, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It was biblical before it was ever popular. There is much truth in the words of George Washington Carver, “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday, in life, you will have been all of these.”
Bertrand Russell wrote a great statement about compassionate feeling as he wrote about himself:
Three passions have governed my life: The longings for love, the search for knowledge,
And unbearable pity for the suffering of [humankind]. Love brings ecstasy and relieves loneliness.
In the union of love I have seen in a mystic miniature the prefiguring vision of the heavens that saints and poets have imagined. With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of [people]. I have wished to know why the stars shine.
Love and knowledge led upwards to the heavens, But always pity brought me back to earth; Cries of pain reverberated in my heart Of children in famine, of victims tortured
And of old people left helpless. I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot, And I too suffer.
This has been my life; I found it worth living.
To the condition of mankind which Russell saw, I would add the ‘lostness’ of their souls, their unfulfilled purposes in life, the unrealized search for happiness. Unlike Russell, I see much that can be done, not all at once, but one compassionate act at a time. May these conditions of man ever motivate our daily lives in the pursuit of lifting our fellows to a higher plane. Let’s have a year of compassionate action. Compassion really does make a difference.