Saturday, January 15, 2011

Character: A Spirit of Compassion

Compassion is a spirit clearly evidenced in Christ yet often seen in those who do not know Christ.  Human compassion brings some beauty to this world but it has tremendous limitations. What is different about Christ's compassion and the spirit we wish to emulate?   Christ-like compassion flows from the essence of God.  The compassion of our Lord is eternal and infused with the omniscience of God.  Our Creator always remembers that we are but dust and our days are short.  Human compassion is often based on experiential knowledge or fear and comes with our own pre-conceived expectations.  We offer our sympathy based on our own personal feelings and thoughts:  what we would like from others if we were in a similar situation; what we expect one should think and do in such a situation; and sometimes based on how helping makes us feel about ourselves.  Human compassion reacts to what we see; the Lord's compassion is based on what He knows (and willingly shares! if we seek Him). 

A startling aspect of divine compassion is that sometimes it is tough!  God knows what is best for us, and in His compassion, He will withhold anything less.  Human compassion is often just sympathy:  good can be the enemy of best.  Human compassion is not fully discerning.  Another vast difference between human and divine compassion is its duration.  Our compassion often is affected by the response of the recipient; if they persist in their 'foolishness' or reject our offerings of compassion, we withdraw our mercy.   God's mercy is patient and inexhaustible! 

So now that we see some differences between His compassion and our own, what will a Christ-like spirit of compassion look like in His children?   Christ-like compassion will see a need and meet that need--not because of any expected result or return but because that is Christ's heart!  Christ-like compassion will not be conditional or even situational; it will be the spirit with which the Christian lives moment by moment--gentle and long-suffering.  Christ-like compassion will have God-given understanding and it will not always be perceived as a blessing.  The spirit we are seeking to demonstrate will draw others because it is the same loving-kindness with which God has drawn us to Himself.

Chat Options:

Has anyone ever helped you through a hard time...been compassionate?  (John 11:35; Romans 12:15)

Has anyone ever NOT done what you thought was kind but later you found it is was the best thing? (Psalm 103:13-8)

Have you ever had someone help you for a while and then get irritated with you because you were not doing what they wanted?  Or have you tried to help someone and been annoyed by their 'failures?'  Psalm 78:38-9

How is Jesus so able to understand us?  Hebrews 4:15; Isaiah 53:11

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