Compassion, along with reconciliation and forgiveness, each of which we will touch on, compassion may be one of the most difficult traits a Christian can exhibit. It is easier of course around those we love, those we are close to, and when a family member or friend is ill, those who truly love, when it is possible, do more than just send a get-well card. They visit, they tend to the needs, both physical, materialistically and spiritual that their loved one requires. These dear brothers and sisters in Christ take time out of their lives to talk, sit and listen or just hold the hand of those they are closest to. If necessary, the house will be cleaned, bills paid, and other family members, if any, needs will be met. Their compassion will know no end.
Yet, if we are honest, if the illness lingers, the burdens can become so heavy and the mind can move to thoughts of murmuring, stubbornness, selfishness, and even disgust. “To him that is afflicted pity should be shown from his friend” (Job 6:14) The continual off-putting of ourselves, our own families needs, those who are yet healthy but feeling ‘left-out’, may begin to bring in us a resentment that we will both hate and despise within ourselves. “It is my honor and privilege to do this for you” may turn into “I just want to get on with my life”.
Of course we would pray that the ill person would be spiritually mature enough to see the encroachment of these emotions within us, and in love, would broach the subject. Compassion should not only be given when possible, but also must be received in kind. Illness of the spirit can advance just as quickly, and in many cases, can be much more injurious to our spirit, as any condition that affects the flesh. The flesh may heal, but lingering resentment can become a bitter root in our souls, and compassion cannot grow in that soil. “Thus speaketh the Lord of Hosts, saying, Execute true judgement, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother: And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in his heart. (Zech. 7:9-10)
Recognize immediately when this sinful, un-Christ-like character trait enters into your heart, thank God that He has shown it to you, and plead with Him to remove it from you. Do not try to hide it from Him or bury these feelings deep within you, only the Holy Spirit can remove these thoughts from your mind. Praise His name that He has seen fit to allow you to go through this trial, to experience, perhaps for the last time, these thoughts that do not represent a Christ-like character trait. He will bless you with growth and maturity through faith in His name.
Now this compassion can spill over like a flood to those you do not know, those you have never met before, all those He places in your path for His glory. You will truly be able to “weep with those that weep” (Rom. 12:15), because your heart is now truly being knit together with God’s own heart, and love is at the center of our Father’s heart. Compassion will no longer be something you ‘feel’, but a true outpouring of the love of Christ on all you meet. Their pains will become your pains, their sorrows your sorrows. (2nd Cor. 11:29)
This level of compassion, as we can now see, does not exist in the human heart, but in the Holy Spirit of the Most High God, and is imbued only to those He so desires. It is both a great privilege and an enormous burden, this character trait of compassion. A great sorrow will overcome your heart on a regular basis, not only for your suffering brothers and sisters in Christ, but especially for the lost. Sadly, the pain they experience here in this life cannot be compared, if they die in their sins, with what awaits. To speak with them of the love that God has for them in Christ is perhaps the greatest show of compassion you will ever experience, and the greatest expression of love that you can give.
No human on their own can ever bear the type of sorrow that a person of God who has been blessed with deep compassion will experience, and I for one cannot understand how our Lord does. But I do believe that there is great joy awaiting those He has seen fit to lay this incredible blessing on, for these His children who are willing to be this compassionate to all they meet are a special joy to Him. They exude a Christ-like atmosphere of love and care that is rare indeed in this world. They “fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2) in all its full splendor, with no other thought than to glorify God in the highest for the beautiful gift of His Son for us. They give of themselves willingly knowing full well that many times they will be rebuked and ridiculed, and are more than willing to pay this small price for His great name. They are willing to “suffer adversity” (Heb. 13:3) for others and with others, relying on God to sustain them. These individuals will know a love from our Lord that many can only speak of, and no matter the trial, they will willingly submit themselves to the will of the Father, knowing that it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that they can stand on this great sea of love and compassion for others.
Open your heart to Him, ask Him to fill it with compassion for all that cross your path, and the love of Christ will spill over to everyone you meet.