1 Peter 3:8
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
I love clear directions from Scripture. I actually do need to be told to be compassionate and humble because, honestly, it doesn’t come naturally. We think these things come naturally because we collectively experience bursts of them. For example, right now everyone in the country is sending money, supplies, and well wishes to hurricane victims, there isn’t anyone who isn’t teary-eyed at famine relief commercials, and on 9/11 we were all New Yorkers. Basically, during any major crisis collective compassion seeps out, but it’s because these catastrophic events could happen anywhere to anyone, we relate to the suffering we see because it could’ve happened to us. But what about being compassionate toward someone that has absolutely nothing to do with me?
There are some unattractive people out there with some unattractive lives. I typically do not put myself in their shoes because I don’t relate to them and have made none of the life choices they have. I don’t have sympathy or empathy for them because I don’t do what they do. But they still need compassion, don’t they? There’s people who have mistreated me and my family; it’s easy to just write them off. But they still need compassion, don’t they? I’m not encouraging indulgence, just compassion. Compassion means encouraging the struggling to follow Jesus more and more. Compassion means I don’t want anyone to die in their sins no matter how badly they’ve wronged me or someone I love. Compassion has nothing to do with me or putting myself in someone else’s shoes. Compassion has everything to do with being concerned for others even when their concerns are not mine.
When Jesus heard what had happened (His cousin, John the Baptist, had just died), he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
I want to be just like your Son, Jesus, who is compassionate to all. Help me not to be compassionate only when I have empathy and sympathy but all the time. Help me to truly be concerned for others like you’ve instructed and like Jesus is all the time, and it is in his name I pray, amen.