Compassion or Passion – What moves you?

Senior and young holding hands

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
― Aesop

We live in a day and time where, to the visible eye, there is little compassion.  We’re very seldom moved by another person’s misfortunes to the extent of wanting to help.  You see compassion isn’t just about being conscious of someone else’s troubles, but it moves us to action in trying to help them in whatever way we can.  However, when we think about what “moves” us, we tend to think more along the lines of “passion.”  Let’s say your little boy comes home from school with a black eye.  Your first feeling as a parent is one of compassion (simply put, that feeling of sympathy for your child that has encountered some type of misfortune with a desire to alleviate their pain); however, after a minute or two this strong feeling of anger kicks in that could possibly cause us to act in a somewhat harmful way – otherwise known as passion.  As I looked up the definition of these two words, there were two words that immediately stuck out – “someone” and “something.”  Compassion is directed towards “someone”; passion is directed towards “something”.

There are several instances in the Bible where Jesus was moved with compassion.  Matthew 14:14 tells us that “Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.”  If you’ll read on to verse 15, you’ll see that the disciples came to Jesus and told Him to send the people away to the villages to buy food for themselves; however, Jesus’ reply was “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat.” (Amplified)  Of course we know the rest of the story – Jesus fed the multitude with just two fish and five loaves.  You see Jesus was very aware that the people had to be hungry, but instead of sending them away he was moved by compassion to meet their needs.  Compassion moved Jesus to heal the two blind men (Matthew 20:30-34) and the leper (Mark 1:40-42).  Compassion moved Him to raise the widow’s son from the dead (Luke 7:12-15).  It was the “someones” that moved Jesus.  It was for them that He came to “preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; . . . to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity]” (Luke 4:18 – Amplified).

Unfortunately, we seem to be moved more by passion these days.  It’s all the “stuff” going on in the world that causes us to jump on our soap box and rant for a few minutes, but yet we can drive by a homeless person and maybe, just maybe, for a brief moment we might feel just a little bit of compassion, but then we wonder if they’re for real or just out begging for money.  We walk by a young pregnant girl on the street with tears streaming down her face, but we turn our head the other way because we “don’t want to get involved.”  Let’s bring it a little closer to home – we walk in church and see someone who’s obviously distressed about something, but we walk on by as if they’re not even there – “If they need to talk to somebody they’ll find someone to go to.”  All too often we have the attitude “Well they’ve made their bed, now they can lie in it,” but do we know firsthand the circumstances surrounding how that bed really got made.  We even use the Bible to back us up – “Well, you know what the Bible says, you reap what you sow.”  (Let me just say here if that’s your attitude you may want to stop and consider what seeds you’re sowing right now.)  Then there’s the all too familiar “They had it coming to them.  They got exactly what they deserved.”

Do you remember the adulteress that was brought to Jesus who was caught in the very act of adultery?  Although this was a test by the scribes and Pharisees to try to find a charge they could accuse Jesus of, the tables were quickly turned.  I believe pretty much all of the above quotes could be applied to this woman.  Yes, she was sewing some pretty bad seeds, and she might have deserved what was coming to her, but Jesus thought otherwise.  While Jesus’ words were for the accusers (John 8:7), the words to the woman, I believe, were words of compassion “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”  This is what Luke 4:18 is all about.

I dare say being moved by compassion to the point of taking action might be way out of our comfort zone, and I’ll be the first to raise my hand and confess that, yes, it would definitely be out of my comfort zone.  However, if we’re truly part of the body of Christ, then it’s our arms that should be reaching, and our hands that should be helping and our feet that should be going.  It’s our heart that should be moved with compassion, because as His body, we should have the heart of Christ.  What breaks the heart of God should break ours as well, so I’m going to put a challenge out there for me as well as you.  Be willing to move out of your comfort zone and be moved by compassion to the point of action.  It could be something as simple as just listening or offering a shoulder to cry on, or it might entail something a little bit bigger – or a lot bigger.  Just allow yourself to be led by the Holy Spirit and minister to those in need that you may come in contact with in the coming weeks.  Allow God to use you to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Are you willing to be moved by compassion?



Author: Cindy Byrd

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