Saturday, April 28, 2018

Compassion and Lovingkindness

What is it that makes you feel better when you suffering, lonely, down, or hurting in some way or another? It probably isn’t a pill, although there is no doubt that sometimes a doctor’s intervention and his medicine may be needed at certain times in a person’s life. But what really does an even better job of brightening our day is to have someone come along side of us with compassion and kindness. Someone who cares enough to check upon us, talk with us, or go out for a cup of coffee; someone just to talk to or someone who wants to be there for us. Where are those Christians when we need them?

Unfortunately, we live in a world that no longer has time for true compassion or kindness. Oh yes, we throw money at situations like giving to missions or the needy in order to show that we are compassionate and kind, but most people, including Christians, often don’t reach out to give of their time and energy to show that they care. However, as a Christian, who is to represent Christ and His love to the rest of the world and as a Christian who is to love others as we love ourselves, we fail in so many ways to show true compassion and kindness to others.

Proverbs 10: 11,13 tells us that “The words of the godly lead to life; …” and “wise words come from the lips of people with understanding, …” For Christian women, this means that we are to speak into the lives of other women who may need the godly or wise words we have been given through God’s Holy Word and the Holy Spirit. In fact, it is the Holy Spirit who will remind us of what we learned and of the specific words that we can use to help another woman, if we are just willing to reach out in compassion and lovingkindness to come along side of her.

Perhaps the greatest aspect of Active Relational Christian Mentoring (ARCM) is the very necessary aspect of compassion and lovingkindness, for without those two caring words becoming a part of our reason for mentoring, true Christian mentoring cannot take place. Authentic Christians are, moreover, supposed to live out our Christian life in a way that glorifies the Lord through our words and actions and in a way that shows others that we are truly living for the Lord. But often Christians become so wrapped up in themselves and the fast paceness of our society that many people rarely find the time to show true compassion and lovingkindness.

God’s Compassion and Lovingkindness

Believers should know the importance of compassion and lovingkindness, because God has given us examples of the importance of compassion and lovingkindness throughout His Word. In fact, from the Older Testament and throughout the Newer Testament God has given us story after story about compassion and lovingkindness to show us how we are to live and just how important those two words are to God. For, our God is a loving and compassionate God showing compassion and lovingkindness to those who are obedient and love Him. In fact, it is the Psalmists who constantly speak of God’s compassion and lovingkindness throughout the book of Psalms.

David often wrote of God’s compassion and lovingkindness, and in one of his Psalms he wrote, “For You, O Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.” … But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.” – (Psalm 86: 5, 15. NASB).

Again, David wrote, “He has made His wonders to be remembered. The Lord is gracious and compassionate.” -- (Psalm 111:4. NASB).

In addition David said, “He is gracious and compassionate and righteous.”  -- (Psalm 112: 4. NASB).

We also have other examples of God’s standard of compassion and lovingkindness written about throughout the Older Testament. These examples tell us that God sat out to teach us how we are to act and care about others. For, it is through the stories that God had recorded in His Word that we learn how we are to treat others with compassion and kindness. One such example was the story of baby Moses who was found floating in the bulrushes of the Nile by one of the Pharaoh’s daughters. We are told that “… When the princess saw the little basket among the reeds she told one of her servant girls to get it for her. As the princess opened it, she found the baby boy. His helpless cries touched her heart. …). – (Exodus 2: 5, 6. NASB). However, she also knew that he was probably one of the Israelite’s babies who was being hidden from soldiers who were enforcing the decree given to them by her father, the Pharaoh, to kill all the Israelites’ baby boys. Yet she had compassion upon the baby and took him into the palace and raised him as her own. Through her compassion and lovingkindness, Moses was saved and grew in knowledge and wisdom. Some of that wisdom would be acquired the hard way, but God knew that Moses would be the leader that He needed for the Israelites. So later, Moses, with God’s help, would save all the Israelites, as he led them to safety from the Pharaoh.

False Compassion and Kindness

God also gives us examples of false compassion and lovingkindness as He contrasts it in His Word with true lovingkindness and compassion. I am sure you all remember King Saul and his obsession with getting rid of David, because he knew that David had been anointed to become the next King of Israel. Not only was King Saul jealous, but in his paranoia, he believed that David was out to get him, which was something that he had allowed his sick mind to imagine and believe. Some of his men also lied to him and encouraged him in his belief that David was out to get him. Consequently, Saul spent years searching for David and trying to kill him.

At one point in time, David and his men hid in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. Then the Ziphites went to Saul and told him that David was hiding in the strongholds of Horesh. They urged Saul to come to Horesh and they would surrender David to him. That is when King Saul said, “May you be blessed of the Lord, for you have had compassion on me.” – (I Samuel 23: 21. NASB).

Obviously, anyone can use religious verbiage in order to appear deeply spiritual or close to God, But God is not impressed with our duplicitous words or actions. Furthermore, Saul did not care whether the Ziphites were blessed or not. All he wanted was to get and kill David.  On the other hand, the Ziphites were not showing Saul compassion, but instead wanted to get David and his men out of their territory. So, they were offering to surrender David to Saul. Their offer was not out of compassion or kindness for King Saul. Eventually they would have expected something in return from King Saul, if not at that time or at a later time, whether it was money or a favor in the future. Fortunately, they were not able to give David to King Saul.

God gave us this specific example of duplicitous actions to show us that our compassion and lovingkindness for others has to be genuine. Moreover, we should not expect anything in return for our words or actions. Instead, we should be focused on doing for others in kindness and compassion what God has given us the opportunity to do. We are to love others as we love ourselves.

True Compassion and Kindness

There are many other examples of  God's true compassion and lovingkindness throughout the Older Testament, as God shows compassion on people through the mentors and through His prophets who were sent to tell people what God expected them to do. God also used several appearances of the "Angel of the Lord", who many believe was a special appearance of pre-incarnate Jesus Christ who spoke to and showed compassion on several people in the Older Testament. (See Genesis 16: 7; 22:11; 31:11; Exodus 3:2; 14:19; Judges 2: 1; 13:2; and Zechariah 3: 1-6.)

There were also other ordinary humans within the Older Testament who spoke into the lives of other people while showing compassion and lovingkindness for them. One such example was Ruth, who showed compassion and lovingkindness for Naomi by not leaving her alone and by going with her back to Israel after Naomi’s husband and sons died. Through Ruth’s compassion and lovingkindness, we can see how we were created to love others as we love ourselves. 

It was God who not only spoke directly through His prophets to tell the Israelites of His love and compassion, but He also showed compassion and lovingkindness in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus to earth to show God’s love for us, and then through that compassion and lovingkindness He offered us Salvation. So now let’s turn to God’s Son in the Newer Testament to see how Jesus showed compassion and lovingkindness to the people He encountered. At what point did Christ’s acts of compassion turn into mentoring words of compassion and lovingkindness?

God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and His Compassion and Lovingkindness

There are so many stories in the Newer Testament about Christ’s compassion and love, but I do not have time to write about them all. So, I will just pick out a few of the lovingkindness and compassionate ones that will emphasize the example that Christ was setting for us. For, Christ wanted us to understand that we are to do more than just live our own lives and leave others on their own. He wanted us to understand that we are to be involved in the lives of others and that we are to be there for those who are: hurting, struggling, down and out, or in need, etc. No, it isn’t about giving out money so that we can get off the hook and make ourselves feel better by simply throwing money at a problem or situation. Yes, giving money is great when it is needed. However, we are to do more by giving of ourselves and by showing compassion and lovingkindness with our words and actions. True compassion and lovingkindness is about speaking into the lives of others when they are desperate for a friend or need emotional support. It’s about being there for someone who is hurting or in need of a shoulder to cry on. It is also about sharing the Good News to those who are lost.

As Jesus was going through the cities and villages healing every kind of sickness, removing demons from the possessed, teaching, and proclaiming the Gospel and the Kingdom of God, He one day stopped and looked at all the people surrounding Him. “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.  -- (Matthew 9: 36-38. NASB.).

Christ Jesus loved all the people he encountered, and He loves all of us today. The harvest was great back then and it is also still great, which means that we need to share the Gospel message with those who have as yet been able to find Christ as their Savior. We can also become involved in the harvest when we tell another person of the Good News of Christ and when that person comes to know Christ as their Savior. The sharing of the Good News isn’t hard with the help of the Holy Spirit, and in many cases all it takes is befriending someone who needs a friend or needs someone to talk to. No, we are not like Jesus in the sense that we can take away their pain and problems. But we can pray for them, we can talk with them, and we can sit with them when they are sick. We can teach them what we know from what we have learned in life. But, we first have to build a mentoring relationship based upon compassion, lovingkindness, caring, and truth.

It is important for us to also befriend, console, help, or emotionally support another Christian woman through ARCM. Just because someone may be a Christian, does not mean that she doesn’t need a fellow Christian to come along side of her to actively mentor her with caring and compassionate words. In fact, most Christians have been in a valley at some time or another where they have had to struggle to get out and live their life for the Lord, as the devil does everything in his power to bring them down. This is where the mentoring discipleship of a fellow Christian becomes so important. But so many Christians just live and let live. They do nothing to reach out and be there for their fellow Christians. Because of this, I believe that God is very disappointed in people's lack of compassion and the false kindness or un-Christian behaviors they produce for Him. For, many fail to show acts of compassion and lovingkindness toward even their fellow Christians, let alone to those that are lost and need the Lord.

Do you remember the story in the Gospel of Matthew about Christ feeding the four thousand on the side of a mountain? Large crowds had followed Him upon a mountain and they were quite some ways from any town. Jesus taught and healed for a few days. Finally, “Jesus called to His disciples to Him, and said, ‘I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint.’” – (Matthew 15: 32. NASB). The disciples were astonished for there was no where to get any food. So, they searched for food among the crowd, but were only able to come up with seven loafs of bread and a few small fishes, which certainly was not enough to feed that large of a crowd. But it was enough for Jesus to create a miracle. Jesus blessed the bread and fish and suddenly there was enough for everyone. All of the people were fed and there were even seven large baskets containing pieces of food left over.

Christ felt for these people and their earthly need of hunger, just as He had compassion for their heavenly spiritual need for God and eternal life. However, it was with the miracle of food, that Christ was able to not only meet their earthly need but was also at the same time able to show them that they needed a spiritual life with God. It was also through this miracle that Jesus was able to show them that he had the authority to teach them about eternal life as well as the authority to teach them of their need for the daily compassionate and living for God. Jesus Christ did this by solidifying in the peoples’ minds, through their experience as seen through their eyes and the filling of their stomachs, that Christ’s relationship with God as the Son of God made Him able to perform the miracle of food for everyone. Christ’s compassion for the peoples’ physical need is why He created the miracle of feeding four thousand, and it was His compassion for their spiritual need and His teachings and healings that showed at least some of the people that Jesus Christ was indeed the Messiah.

Thank goodness that we are not responsible for producing large miracles like those Jesus created. Furthermore, like those people of long ago, we know that only God can produce those kinds of miracles. However, it was Christ’s miracles that provided the backdrop for His teaching and showed everyone that Jesus Christ was indeed the incarnate Son of God who had come to cleanse them of their sins and to offer them Salvation. Now, as Christ’s ambassadors, we have been given the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who will help or guide us into sharing the Gospel message with others; leading to the miracle of Salvation if the person so chooses to invite Christ into their heart. But in order to engage another person in conversation about Christ, we must be willing to be compassionate and show lovingkindness before we can share the Gospel miracle of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ who will take away our sins. Being compassionate and showing lovingkindness can then produce small miracles like those of bringing a smile to someone’s face when they had previously felt so alone, or of being able to teach someone how to do something that they previously could not do. In fact, there are many more small miracles that can occur every day when we, through the power of the Holy Spirit, speak into the lives of other women.

True believers are to mentor other Christians in their spiritual growth just by being there with them and talking to them about the Lord. True believers also need to be there to help their fellow Christians when they need help. I don’t know about you, but when I am with fellow Christians, the conversation invariably turns to the Lord. It is during those times that the wisdom and knowledge of one person can be shared with the other. Sharing what we know about the Lord is very important. We also know that Jesus shared His personal spiritual insight and knowledge with a crowd of four thousand on the side of a mountain, but all we have to do is to share with one or two of our friends, or friends to be, what the Lord has lain upon our heart to tell them. For, sharing what we know from the Lord is just another way of showing compassion and lovingkindness to another person. This sharing can often be accomplished through ARCM.

Throughout the Gospels we are told over and over again, and we have been given many examples of Jesus having compassion on the people. (See Matthew 9: 36; 15: 32; Mark 1: 41; Mark 5: 10; Mark 6:34; Mark 8:2; Mark 9:32; Luke 7: 13; Luke 10: 33, Luke 15: 20; John 10: 11; John 11: 33-36; John 17: 11-17 as just a few of the examples of Christ’s compassion for humans). These examples of compassion and lovingkindness have been recorded in God’s Word for us to learn from and to show us what God expects of those that love Him.

Throughout His healing, miracles, and teaching, Jesus gave people the Good News of Salvation and eternal life. Indeed, both Christ, the Son, and the Father want none to perish, but want everyone to come to the Saving Grace of Christ. Unfortunately, not everyone will come to know Christ as their Savior. Still it is our responsibility to be the hands and feet of Christ as we are His working ambassadors to the world. If we do not reach out to comfort, support, share, coach, counsel, and empower other women to be all that they can be for God, themselves, their family and their friends, then we are not doing what Christ has asked us to do. We are just living in a type of limbo that will one day have to be explained to God at the Bema Judgment Seat. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have to explain to God why I did not help, or why I did not care about, teach, mentor, counsel, or disciple another Christian.

It takes so little time to reach out and help another person even when you least expect to find yourself in a position to help. You just have to have your eyes open and wear your compassionate and lovingkindness as a Christian on your shoulder so that you can use them when the opportunity is presented to you. 

I will end with a story by Anne Cetas who wrote this devotional for the March 17, 2018 Our Daily Bread. It is entitled “Whispering Words.”

The young man fidgeted as he sat down for his flight. His eyes darted back and forth to the aircraft windows. Then he closed his eyes and breathed deeply, trying to calm himself – but it didn’t work. As the plane took off he slowly rocked back and forth. An older woman across the aisle from him put her hand on his arm and gently engaged him in conversation to divert his attention from his stress. ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Where are you from?’ ‘You’re doing well’ were a few of the things she whispered. She could have been irritated with him or ignored him. But she chose a touch and a few words. Little things. When they landed three hours later, he said, ‘Thank you so much for helping me.”
Such beautiful pictures of tenderheartedness can be hard to find. Kindness does not come naturally to many of us; our primary concern is often ourselves. But when the apostle Paul urged, ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another' (Ephesians 4: 32.) he was not saying it all depends on us. After we’ve been given a new life by our faith in Jesus, the Spirit begins a transformation. Kindness is the ongoing work of the Spirit renewing our thoughts and attitudes (Ephesians 4: 23).
The God of compassion is at work in our hearts, allowing us in turn to touch others’ lives by reaching out and whispering words of encouragement.

Lord, use me today to bring someone hope, a lighter burden, encouragement.

Compassion is understanding the troubles of others and reaching out.” – Anne Cetas

I will add one thing more to what Ms. Cetas said. Compassion is also understanding the troubles of others, and then understanding when we have been given the opportunity to help, so that we can reach out to mentor them with Christian lovingkindness in whatever area that God may have given us the expertise to help them. If, on the other hand, we don’t have the specific expertise they need, we can actively look for another Christian who can help them. Indeed, all of us can reach out in compassion and lovingkindness, like the woman on the plane did, to help someone in need. We just have to be actively involved in being ambassadors for Christ. What do Christian ambassadors do? They represent Christ in everything they do. They look for opportunities to come along side of another person to help or mentor in some fashion or another. Are you representing Christ to others in all that you do? Are you looking for opportunities to actively mentor or help another woman?

May God bless you in all your mentoring endeavors!  

No comments:

Post a Comment