20th August 2011

The Need For Compassion

The Second of a Series

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”
1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)

I don’t suppose anyone makes it through life without facing some ordeal or having to bear some kind of burden from time to time. And when we do, the world can feel like a very lonely place. The old saying ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’ really takes on its fullest meaning. God intends us to be everybody’s friend, and this is best expressed through compassion.

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary says this: Compassion: to bear, suffer: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

Notice that compassion is a word of action. It is not just a feeling of concern, but of a desire to be a solution to another person’s dilemma. Each of us will meet people with the need for compassion and it is important how we respond. The apostle James gives us a good example, albeit in the context of faith, of what our response should be: “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16)

This person had sympathy and good thoughts for the poor fellow, but that did not help solve the problem. There was a lack of compassion. The indication is that they had the wherewithal to be a part of the solution. When that applies to us we should endeavour to be a part of the solution as far as we are able. Of course we are always able fervently to pray for the individual if that is all that we can do.

As Christians, we are to follow the example of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who was constantly moved by compassion to do many of the things that he did, and always these were solutions to people’s problems.

Father in heaven, I want to follow the example of Jesus and be compassionate to those I meet today who are in need, who are burdened and troubled. With all that lies within my ability, make me a part of the solution to their problems.

Study by David Stirk

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