I have to admit that I’ve come to see the value and need for compassion toward others far later in life than I should have.
I’m typically a “suck it up and get to work” kind of person when it comes to how I view others. But I’m coming to see that though that may be a very “American” attitude (rugged and individualistic), it’s not a very Christ-like one.
So, I’ve been intentionally working on seeing others through the eyes of compassion.
Here are some thoughts that have helped me as I’ve considered the issue:
When I understand and embrace the golden rule, compassion is a natural result (Matthew 7:12).
Think of this this way…
- I struggle with sin in a variety of areas. I hate it. I fight it. I want other people to cut me some slack in those areas because I’m really, really, really trying to overcome those areas of sin.
- Other people have the same kind of struggle, and want the same kind of mercy.
- Compassion recognizes that and gives it to them.
If I take the time to understand where people are coming from, compassion comes more easily.
None of us has become who we are in a vacuum. We’ve been dramatically impacted and shaped by things like…
- The sins of our parents, which could include things like neglect or abuse.
- Tragedies we’ve experienced.
- Disappointments we’ve had to accept.
- Fears that have come true.
Stop and think about YOUR personality quirks and personal sins. How has your past fed and formed them?
Now consider this: Every person you lock eyes with has the same kind of baggage from their past, their hurts, their experiences, and their fears.
How does that impact your ability to have compassion on them?
We are all victims
Hear me out on this one.
I’m not saying we bear no responsibility for the state of our lives and souls.
I am saying we’ve all been deceived, mistreated, and attacked repeatedly by the enemy of our souls, satan.
We are all victims of his trickery and evil on one level or another, to varying degrees.
The state we are in is in large measure due to his influence.
So when another person acts like a sin-soaked bone head, it helps me to remember that they’ve been under attack by an enemy far stronger than them.
That reminder helps me have compassion. It helps me pray for them instead of wish them away or become irritated.
Helping your family have compassion
Here are some ideas for the kinds of conversations that will help your children develop hearts of compassion.Discuss the terrible conditions of the world, from starving children to oppressed people groups. Talk with your family about what it must be like to be in those people’s shoes. Pray for them together. Voice of the martyrs (http://www.persecution.org) is a very helpful resource to focus your discussion on those being persecuted because they are Christians. Their resources include a podcast, books, posters, and lots of other stuff. One of their websites is designed specifically for children (http://www.kidsofcourage.com/) Think together about the people you know. Talk about what they’re going through – divorce, abuse, job loss, etc. Try to imagine what life might be like for them. Decide together how you can be a blessing to them. Discuss why compassion toward others is important. Here are some passages to help you keep your conversation biblically centered.
- Matthew 7:12
- Luke 10:30-35
- Galatians 6:2
- Ephesians 4:32
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11-14
- James 2:14-17
- 1 Peter 4:10
- 1 John 4:7-21