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Compassion: Pity for the suffering or distress of another, with the desire to help or spare.

Devotion for Compassion

Matthew 18:23-34
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents (millions of dollars) was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denari (a few dollars). He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, the were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.”

   What a terrible thing . . . one would have thought this servant would have been jubilant and humbled by his master’s mercy. This master really listened to his servant’s words and was moved by compassion for him. He didn’t give the servant extra time to come up with the money. Instead, he forgave the debt completely! I have a hard time understanding how the master could forgive such a huge debt, and on the other hand, how could the servant have been so merciless with one who owed him so little? I believe the master was looking at his servant through loving eyes, eyes that could see panic and desperation in his servant’s eyes. The master clearly represents God and the immeasurable love and compassion he has for us. Do we have the same compassion for others?

   Suppose for a moment that you are an employer, with many employees. You are well known for your generosity. One of the men who works for you, has an extreme medical emergency. He finally gathers up enough courage to ask you for a loan. No, he doesn’t need a few thousand dollars, but closer to a million dollars. You have the money . . . he has the need . . . so you make the decision to give him the loan. Now the time has come for him to repay the loan. He comes to your office and quietly shuts the door. After taking a deep breath, he announces that he doesn’t have the million dollars. He goes on to say, that he doesn’t have a hundred thousand, not even one thousand dollars to repay you. Now, you are in the Master’s shoes. Would you have same compassion that the Master did? I don’t know that I would, but I pray that I would at least seek God and his wisdom before I made my decision.

   I know that the human capacity for loving others doesn’t even come close to the love and compassion God has for us. Nevertheless, I also know that, every day there are average people, doing average jobs, who show great and godly compassion for the people around them. You probably know some, yourself. You may even be one of those people who look at others through eyes of love and compassion. A compassionate person has an extremely tender heart and has the ability to feel the other’s pain and need. Something drives them to respond to the needs of others. I believe that true compassion for others, is a gift from God.

   My husband is a lot like the master that we read about in the above scriptures. He has a big heart, which seems to be oozing compassion. It seems like he is always looking for someone to help. It doesn’t have to be money, but often times it is. I can recall numerous times when he has opened his heart and wallet to help others and my husband is well known for cancelling the debts. He doesn’t do these things to receive glory, but because he has a real desire to help others who are in need. One family, in particular comes to mind.

   Years ago, we opened a small auto repair business, when we moved to North Carolina. We were new to the community, with very few friends. However, there was a young man who lived up the street from our shop. He who would often stop by the shop, on his way home from work, just to see how my husband and the business were doing. Quite some time went by when his wife became pregnant. There were complications and the baby was born with a serious defect and needed an operation. The young couple needed to travel hundreds of miles to the hospital that specialized in the type of operation that the baby needed. They didn’t have enough money for the trip, much less the thousands of dollars it would take for the operation. At the time, we didn’t have much money to spare, but my husband gathered as much money from our finances as he could. He also began to talk to every person in the community that he knew, to see if they could help. Before long, he had helped to organize a sizable donation plan. With the help of my husband, community members, churches and friends, there was enough money raised to help the family in their time of need. The little girl had her operation, and is a very healthy, happy little girl today. Was there any talk of repaying the debt? You know the answer . . . of course not.

   Compassion can be shown in hundreds of different ways, we just need to be aware of others and willing to help. Be willing to give of yourself; keep your eyes, your ears and your heart open, the world needs our compassion, our understanding and our help. My best definition for compassion, is being able to put yourself in another person’s place. As the Golden Rule says: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Relating Scriptures:

Lamentations 3:22-23  Because of  the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Matthew 9:36  When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 14:14  When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Mark 1:40-41  A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”

Luke 10:30-36  In reply Jesus said; ” A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. the next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” Which of these three do you think was a neighbor (compassionate) to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”

I John 3:16-18  This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lies for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need, but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
Dear Children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.

I Peter 3:8  Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

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