Sunday, September 7, 2014

To Be Compassionate ...

The definition of compassion is simply read as having a deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune which is accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.  Biblically this is understood as Christ was compassionate for us.  In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 we read, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 

Pause for a moment, soak that in ... Mmmmm, nothing gets better than that people.  Nothing.  HE COMFORTS US IN ALL OUR AFFLICTION SO THAT WE MAY BE ABLE TO COMFORT THOSE WHO ARE IN ANY AFFLICTION!  Do you see the key words in that?  In all OUR affliction so that we may be able to COMFORT those who are in ANY affliction.  

This is a struggle for us all.  Is it not?  We do for those we love.  We do for those we care about.  We do for those we work along side.  We do for those in our church and in our school.  But do we do for those who are in any affliction?  God calls us to love as He loves us.  God calls us to witness to those who need witnessing.  God calls us to be a testament to our faith in Him and to share His love for others as he has shared His love with us.  This comes in many forms and fashions, people.  Seriously.  Something as simple as helping someone reach an item on a shelf in a store that they cannot reach.  Bringing someone a bottle of water when you see they are thirsty.  Saying hello to someone who you see look at their feet every single time that you see them.  Compliment each other.  Help each other.  Cheer for each other.  Pray for each other.  This is not just important for individuals in need but for fellow Christians as well.  

Just last week I was eating lunch alone in Taco Bell in Vernon.  There was an elderly couple that came in and I was admiring the simple affections between them that had been obviously a long standing routine of love between them for many years.  It was refreshing to see.  And then I see the wife sit down at the table while the husband gathered napkins and forks and so forth.  Then he sat with her.  After he got their tray of food when their number was called and he sat back down joining his wife, he gathered his hands in hers and he prayed allowed for them, for their lunch and for their travels ahead.  There was so much going on around them.  But in that moment, whether they watched for a split-second or until the prayer was complete (as I did), everyone in that establishment noticed.  They heard prayer and recognized it different from natural conversation over their own and they stopped and were silent and recognized that prayer that this gentleman was praying over himself and his wife.  Then life went on amongst us all.  But it touched them.  This couple had no idea that they were affecting others around them (whether in a large way or a small way), they were simply being Christians and thanking God for their meal and safe travels.  When I was leaving and throwing my trash away I smiled at them and told them thank you.  They have no idea what I was thanking them for, or maybe they did.  I was thanking them for reminding me that people watch, people see our actions, people see the compassion we have for each other.  I noticed that gentleman taking care of his wife, both physically, emotionally and spiritually.  If I noticed, so did others.  

You see, compassion is contagious.  Is it not?  The Pay it Forward Movement proves that, right?  Someone buys your coffee in the drive-thru at Starbuck's and you in turn at a random moment either that day or the next few days, pays that kindness forward.  But does that continue?  For most people it does not.  For some it does.  And yes, there are people who do not pay it forward at all.  But that is what makes it interesting and challenging as Christians, right?  What fun would it be if witnessing were so easy ... haha, yeah right?!  

Some people take more compassion than others do.  Let me ask you this way ... if you have a child and they are struggling with learning how to read.  You work with them 15-30 minutes every day after school.  But they just continue to struggle.  Do you throw your hands up and say, "Oh you just are not catching it as fast as I want you to so learn yourself." ???  NOOOO, I should hope you would not do that to a child.  The same is for our compassion towards others.  If you show kindness to someone every single day you encounter them and they are just a sourpuss back to you, are you going to throw your hands up and tell yourself or them, "You just aren't a nice person so I give up on you." ???  Maybe, maybe you feel that is a warranted reaction ... or maybe, just maybe you should ask God how to handle that situation.  Maybe you should ask yourself if it is possible that this person has never had consistent kindness that was dependable.  Maybe they do not know God like you do.  Maybe they just need that ONE MORE day of kindness to break through their wall and then their light will shine back to you.  

“All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart.” 
 Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

If we stop simply hearing what is going on around us and start listening we will eventually learn what others need in the ways of compassion to serve them the way that Christ wants us to serve.  There is a difference between hearing and listening.  Anyone can hear.  It is an automatic reaction to noise.  But listening.  That takes a psychological effort to process the noise.  Listen, people.  Listen and learn and act.  It is pretty exciting to receive opportunities to serve Christ through our actions of compassion.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” 
― Anne Frankdiary of Anne Frank

Deuteronomy 16:17 "Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you."

Matthew 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

Galatians 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."

1 Peter 3:8 "Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart and a humble mind."

Each of these scriptures not only instruct us of God's plan for us as Christians but they also encourage us to continue our path of compassion towards others.  

This week I challenge each of you ... be compassionate where you normally would not be.  This does not make you a bad person, this makes you human ... and as humans we have the freedom of will and choice.  Choose to do at least one extra act of compassion this week.  Share it under this post if you would like.  Be encouraging to someone else to do this as well.  

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” 
― Mother Teresa

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” 
 Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” 
― Leo Buscaglia