Compassion is not my default. I have been more of a ‘tough love’ kind of a girl, a ‘They made their bed and now they’ll lie in it’ point of view. I’ve been the one to say “Truth hurts, deal with it.”
But somewhere along the way, the Lord has gripped my heart and shaken it with his truth.
In the back of my Bible, in 80′s pink ink, I pinned Matthew 9:36,
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.
Underneath resides a quote,
“…to have the heart of Christ is to look beyond appearances and make decisions of compassion.”
I am not perfect, but I am learning to see, choosing to see, as the Lord sees. If He has extended his compassion to me, why should I refuse it to someone else?
We choose to see the person, not the problem or the circumstance, but the person. We choose to see them as Jesus does…one whom He loves and desires to know.
If we approach our relationships and strangers with this in mind, it will fundamentally change us.
First, it will always humble us. Judgment comes quick. Criticalness is a default of mine often cloaked in wisdom and discernment, but when I refuse to see a person as one Jesus loves—either as His child or one he longs to draw to himself—I forget the grace I’ve been shown and I set myself as judge and master.
Second, it reminds us that redemption is always at the forefront of the Savior’s mind. His intent is that all would come to repentance.
But if I am the only Christ many will know and I dismiss them as a problem, ignore their pain, laugh at their ignorance, shake my head at their foolishness, then am I being a reconciler of the Gospel?
Am I seeking to lead them, even in the smallest of ways, to be reconciled to God?
And if I remember redemption is the focus, I will remember grace for myself and not be chained to the millstone of legalism.
Third, compassion leads us to look to the heart of the problem. We see the surface issues all around us. But do we choose to take a step back, stop judging, and say, “What is this person’s real need? How can I lead them to the One who will complete and satisfy them?”
When Jesus spoke to the rich, young ruler he didn’t say, “Look, son. You need to get your act together. You say you want to follow me, but I know your wealth is holding you back. Just get rid of it. It shouldn’t be that hard. If you really wanted to know me you’d do it.”
Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
And the young man was grieved at these words. Turmoil and sadness rose in his heart for “he was one who owned much property” (v. 22).
Jesus LOVED him. He knew it would be hard. He knew the fight within this young man’s soul, and yet he did not flippantly dismiss him as a prodigal youth.
The sojourner remembers how Christ has treated them and makes the decision to be compassionate just as Christ.