Thursday, January 16, 2014

Compassionate Christian

                What defines us as Christians? How do people know that we are Christians? This morning, I read a Facebook post by fellow sister in the Lord. She talked about her mom, and how she was a compassionate woman, helping those who could not help themselves. As I read this post, I thought about my own walk; who I am in Christ, and what makes me a Christian. The word “compassion” kept rolling through my mind, so, me being the word hound that I am, I went and looked it up.

                Compassion is first mentioned in the Bible in Exodus 2:6. Pharaoh’s daughter sees baby Moses in a basket, hears him crying and has compassion upon him. The definition of compassion is to have pity, to be gentle, and longsuffering. The primary idea of the word compassion is one of softness, gentleness. This made me think of my own life- and if I am compassionate towards others. Do I show pity, am I gentle towards those who are less fortunate, who need help? Am I a compassionate Christian?
 In the New Testament, the first mention of the word compassion is found in Matthew 9:6. “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”  Jesus, looking out over the multitudes was moved with compassion because He saw their weariness, and how lost they were. The same definition in the Old Testament applies, but with a little more added to it. Compassion here is also pity, but it is a pity that comes out of love. Compassion is more than taking pity upon someone; it is also loving them, and being merciful to them. Compassion is a distinct character trait of God. It is because of His compassion that we were saved.
“The God of the New Testament, the Father of men, is most clearly revealed as ‘a God full of compassion.’ It extends to the whole human race, for which He effected not merely a temporal, but a spiritual and eternal, deliverance, giving up His own Son to the death of the cross in order to save us from the worst bondage of sin, with its consequences; seeking thereby to gain a new, wider people for Himself, still more devoted, more filled with and expressive of His own Spirit. Therefore all who know the God and Father of Christ, and who call themselves His children, must necessarily cultivate compassion and show mercy, "even as he is merciful." (International Encyclopedia of Biblical Terms)
                Without compassion, none of us can truly call ourselves Christians. The compassion of Jesus was not only felt, it was seen in the way He lived His life. He also not only lived it, but He taught us that it ought to be extended to all people, not only our friends and family, and other Christian brothers and sisters, but to those whom are outside the faith, even to our enemies, without exception.
                I ask myself, as I look at the word compassion, and the life of Jesus, do I also show forth that same compassion for people that Jesus did? It’s easy to have compassion for someone you love. We all have compassion for those we love. Jesus asked us, “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you more than others? Even the tax-collectors do the same.” (Matthew 46-47) Compassion is to set us apart from the world. The love and the compassion we have for people, yes, even the sinners of this world, is what sets us apart from the world. Compassion is what defines us as Christians. The world will see our compassion and know that we are Christians.
                The Bible tells us that we are to be Christ-like. That we are to imitate Him, that we are to become more and more like Him. Jesus had compassion on all people. His work on the cross is proof not only of His love, but of His compassion as well.  Christ does define me, but without compassion, can I truly claim the title of Christian? We love on other Christians, we pray for them, bless them, help them, and encourage them. But what about that sinner that lives across the street from you, do you show them compassion, love, or pity. Or do we ignore them, turn away from them, and never say more than a quick hello? What about that teen girl who just found out she was pregnant, do we welcome her with open arms and show her compassion? Or do we turn our backs, turn up our noses and judge her for the sin she has committed?
What sets us apart as Christians? How will people know we are Christians? We are known by our love, and out of that same love is to flow the compassion of Jesus Christ upon a weary and scattered world. Jesus did not come for the saint, but for the sinner. We love those who are like us, we love our brothers and sisters in the Lord, but that does not mean you have compassion, for even the world loves its own. Sinners love sinners, so what makes you so different from them? We are all sinners. We all need Jesus. We all need the love of God to be shed abroad in our hearts. The sin of that young girl is no greater than that sin you are living in right now. Compassion, the world we live in today needs to see compassion. They hear us talk about it, but do they actually see it?
                “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) This verse is the definition of compassion. Thank God He had compassion to do what He did for us, otherwise we all would be like the rest of the world, lost and alone, broken and afraid. Just because someone sins, doesn’t make them less of a person, does not mean they are not worthy of the same compassion that you have been given. If it did, then you would never have been saved. Sin is Sin, and sin needs to be transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. Sin needs to be washed in the blood of His sacrifice, and the only way that the world we live in is going to see that is if we, as Christians, begin to show forth compassion, not only for those who are like us, but even for the sinners of this world.

                Without compassion, none of us would be here today. We would be lost, alone, full of sin and death with no hope of redemption. But because of His great love, and His compassion, He died so that we might live. How many of us can truly say we have compassion for the lost? How many of us are willing to show that compassion to the lost and broken, the sinful and the less desirables of this world? If we are the Christians we claim to be, then our compassion for people should set us apart. Compassion defines Christianity, because without compassion there would be no salvation.

                I pray today that whoever reads these words will search their hearts for compassion. Does compassion for the lost set you apart? Are you compassionate only towards those who are like you, do you love those who love you? Seek the Lord today, ask Him to reveal to you the true meaning of compassion, and pray that the Father will show us how to live as Christ lived- in compassion towards the sinners of this world. In Jesus Name, to Him be the glory, amen and amen.