“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 NIV
Compassion – a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. (Dictionary.com)
We are called to be compassionate with one another. It sounds like it would be an easy task but life in the body of Christ reveals it is not. Many things keep us from being compassionate with one another, however, in this post we will focus on only one. I believe it to be the greatest obstacle to our compassion. What is it? It is our own judgement drawn from our interpretations and perceptions. We all judge. We all interpretate. We all perceive. The problem with this is that we allow our own minds to determine the law by which we are to relate to others. Here are some examples of how we respond with a lack of compassion to our sisters.
“I’m sorry you had a miscarriage but you’re young and can try again.”
“Oh, you never had any children? Why? Don’t you like kids?”
“I can’t believe you had an abortion. I would never do such a thing!”
“Don’t worry, your child is in heaven and you have other children!”
“Obviously, this is all your own fault. You need to repent and move on!”
It’s hard for me to write these down and I’m hoping they are hard for you to read. These are real statements said by real people who claim to be in the body of Christ. They are hurtful and hold no compassion. Each one of these statements has judgement, interpretation, and perceptions. Some even think the above statements should bring about comfort for the one hearing them. Believe me, they do not. We spend way too much time trying to figure out the why and then come up with our own senecios to satisfy us. In each one of these statements compassion is blocked. Also, in each one of these situations, compassion is very much needed. What does the Bible say to us?
“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.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
God comforts us regardless of the situation. Because of Christ, we are even comforted after we sin. He paid the price for it and we find comfort and forgiveness in that. God doesn’t weigh us out to see if we deserve the comfort, he just provides it. Our challenge is we are called to comfort like we’ve been comforted by God. There is no mandate to judge or interpret the situation. We are to comfort. This may mean we never open our mouths. It is not about words but about comfort. It may mean we simply hug someone, or sit with them, or pray from afar. We have each experienced the comfort of God. Share it!
“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
As Followers of Christ, we have been saved from the wrath of God. This salvation should push us to encourage one another. Our own judgements, interpretations, and perceptions are not to be the basis for our encouragement. Notice how the scripture reminds us that our encouragement comes from our salvation. It is about Christ and what he’s done. Let’s face it, we’re not that smart. We may think that our solutions will be the answers and arrogantly give out our wisdom. This is not encouragement for the person on the receiving end. We may foolishly think it’s a great thing for us but it isn’t.
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Galatians 5:18
Paul reminds us here, as Followers of Christ, we are led by the Spirit and no longer under the law. Jesus fulfilled the law for us because we couldn’t do it ourselves. By his mercy and grace, he saved us. Grace gives us freedom in Christ to live our lives following hard after him. However, we put our brothers and sisters back under law, our law. We allow our judgements, interpretations, and perceptions to become the law by which we live. This keeps us from being compassionate because the person is not measuring up to our law. This is to our sorrow and shame. Our law blocks our compassion.
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35
Everyone is familiar with this verse. Jesus wept as he walked with the mourners of Lazarus. They were headed to the tomb where he would raise Lazarus from the dead. Yet, we see Jesus’ compassion on full display as he entered into their sorrow and pain. They had not idea they would see their loved one walking in just a short time. Jesus could have said, “Hey, don’t worry! I’m going to bring him back from the dead. No need to cry.” He didn’t do that instead he showed compassion for the feelings they were experiencing at that time. He entered into this grief. He related to all the feelings of the people. WE ARE TO DO THE SAME THING! We have got to get out of our own way and reach out with compassion!
Let’s all look to God to give us grace to relate to others in a way that brings glory to him.