Two words that before I get going I think need to be defined so their meanings are clear:
contagious [kuhn-tey-juhs] adjective1. capable of being transmitted by bodily contact with an infected person or object: contagious diseases.2. carrying or spreading a contagious disease.3. tending to spread from person to person: contagious laughter.
compassion [kuhm-pash-uhn] noun
1. A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
Anymore the world is slowly getting more and more it seems hard, angry, cold hearted, and mean. Not all are like this, and I really don’t have a gloomy view of the world, it has its good and bad, but this is something this week that really struck me that folks really don’t seem to offer compassion, someone does something or is hurting, first thought is to encourage them to anger, and I am sure someone could argue in some cases folks don’t need to be coddled they need to be PUSHED to better things, honestly for some maybe that is the case, but for me, I don’t buy it.
Compassion is one of those words that goes along with Grace, Mercy, Goodwill, and Tenderhearted. Words you don’t always hear these days, folks are told to pick them selves up, by your bootstraps! Come on now! Hop to it! But honestly, I think some folks could do with a bit more compassion in their lives, it should become common place enough to effect change in one persons life and be contagious to really spread to others around them! How much change can one example make? The world.
Such a powerful message:
Everyone needs compassion
Love that never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations
The song really hits home a point that we are already under compassion, forgiveness and grace by what Jesus did for us on the cross, something we didn’t deserve, but out of grace we were given a gift we didn’t deserve, and had a debt covered we couldn’t pay.
I work in a field day to day that is stereotypically odd ducks with limited social skills. You know the stereotype lets think Nick Burns your Company Computer guy “MOVE” – a silly sketch but I know some IT guys like that, both by just random interaction and a few I call friends lol IT tends to be a fast paced field in which its easier to DO than EXPLAIN – like Nick Burns trying to explain something like “this is the 6.0 version you didn’t update yet? just use the translation software”, Nick can of course just GET IT DONE quickly by getting folks out of the way – but while productivity is important, as a believer we are to SHOW Christ by our lives, using his example.
John 15 (NIV84)
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
So how does that compare to my example of IT? Well in the 15+ years I have been working on computers I try to make the time, I know I’m not perfect – I have my Nick Burns moments, but most times I try to help folks understand, even in my own business I try to explain to customers the technical side when I can or they want to know the “WHY?” more than the simplified answer.
But this isn’t a process just for the work place, no this should be within every day life, with folks we pass at the supermarket, giving up that last “ON SALE!” item, handing a person a cart, and while that may sound like being friendly, compassion can stem from just that simple effort to be nice, to show a kindess and plant that seed of compassion as you have NO idea what kind of day that person has had, maybe you handing them a cart, SERVING them – they break that cycle of a bad day because someone they didn’t even know did something that went against the grain of what the day had been. Compassion can begin to take hold!
Now there are a few stories in the bible about showing compassion the one that often comes to mind aside from the story of the cross is in Luke:
Luke 10 (NIV84)
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 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. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 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.
35 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.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Compassion is simple, and it should be something that comes around more in our lives. While this scripture may sound like the start of a punch line “A priest, levite and samaritan walked into a…” its a great picture that not everyone shows compassion or care or concern – but while the focus is that mercy/grace/compassion is important – in this case the Samaritan saw the obvious need, and took care of it – but to the one he charged with the end care he assured him “I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” – God’s not going to let our investment in another come back void – because like 2 Corinthians says:
2 Corinthians 9 (NIV84)
7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
When we give cheerfully, when we give our our time, talent and treasure – God doesn’t let that come back void – while the scripture doesn’t go on from there to say “An the Samaritan lived a rich life, with money, friends, animals” I think that just as he took care of the man, I think God truly took care of him, I don’t think that 2 silver coins broke the bank for him in his travels – God provided – but that shouldn’t be our motivation, but I think its a promise that we need to truly take to heart because I think in a day in age where jobs are here today, gone tomorrow, the devil uses things of this world to shake our desire of the idea of maybe giving your last $2 to show compassion to a homeless person by buying a cold drink in the hot summer months – so remember that God has your back! Ignore those worries the devil plants of the money of this world being at risk, even if God calls for over your monthly tithe, He won’t drop you!
Compassion isn’t easy either. While I can spout scriptures, spout examples in my own life where I have given to give compassion to others, its not something really taught in this world – I have been blessed to live in the example of some amazing Christian Men & Women in my life, who set examples for me who in some cases claim they never “taught” me that lesson, and by saying “CHUCK DO THIS” no – they never spoke a message of “do this” but they lived it! From that I learned this, which is a thought I carry in my day to day:
God has blessed me, who am I to not bless others in return?
I mean going to by far the #1 example in the Bible of compassion, Jesus giving his life for our sins. Paying a price we could never pay, knowing the eternity we’d have if we didn’t have someone show compassion and sacrifice, just like John 15 above says in verse 13 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” How many friends in your life would you go to that extreme for? How many in your family? How many for a complete stranger? Just like Jesus and the Samaritan they gave not just for a friend, but for strangers, not knowing the results of the compassion they’d show but simply to do it knowing that compassion can cause ripples in ones life, changing even the smallest thing can ripple out and not only effect that person, but those they come in contact with.
Next time your out and about living out your life, try to think differently than you do when you see a person having a bad day, don’t goto the thought first “I’m going to give this person a $1 and they are going to buy beer!” or “They are scamming me!” here’s a quick checklist:
- Think of what this person’s day has been, are they drenched in sweat? are they looking hungry? Is there car really out of gas?
- Don’t think money, if someone is hungry, your walking into the grocery store? Get a lunchable, get the deli to make a sandwich! Fill a need, show compassion with something to meet a need be it gas, food, a talk, a hand pushing a car!
- Look past that person. Don’t desire to see the change in that one life, pray for the effect that act will have on the person’s life and who they’ll effect because of it.
Some would say that’s “just good karma” or “paying it forward” – I say that’s compassion being contagious – because just like 2 Corinthians says “God loves a cheerful giver” and when we cheerfully GIVE compassion, that cheerfulness goes with it! I’ve seen a homeless man digging thru my trash near my apartment and he’s looking for food, water, bottles, cans, whatever he can, but I set aside all my water bottles now and when I see him out and about I bring him a BIG back of recyclables and I see more joy in that man’s eyes than if I had handed him $40 — remember too its not just the compassion given, but its the spirit in which the compassion was given, are you giving it to simply have people say “Look at that Good Christian!” or because you truly want to help another person?
Luke 18 (NIV84)
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector.
12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
If you can’t find yourself being in the mindset or the heart to give without a return, then pray that God would open your heart so you can be like the examples shown here in Luke, be humble about it, and ask yourself the question I ask myself “God has blessed me, who am I not to bless others in return?” because honestly everything you have is God’s.
This week try to show compassion, help spread it, do something for someone having a rough time, be it just a bad day, bad hair day, bad facebook day – whatever has brought them down, show compassion – share a meal, buy a meal, bring a treat, share a silly joke, a picture of a puppy 🙂 try to use compassion to break that cycle of hurt, sadness, pain, help them out of that slump or at least begin the process, because you never know where it will end and who you will effect because even if you don’t see the effects of a smile, of raised spirits, seeds get planted, and grow, and spread and effect all those around us.