A Call to Compassion
By Maria Fontaine
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God’s Word teaches us that love is the most important thing in our interactions with people. If we have learned to pray, if we have learned to witness, if we have learned to organize a mission work, but we have not learned to have love, it profits us nothing.1
If we are to love others as we love ourselves and lay down our lives for the brethren as we have been called to do as His disciples,2 it seems we would be wise to err on the side of being too understanding than to being too hard on them and too critical, possibly misjudging them and making the very difficult time they may already be going through even harder. The Lord will teach each of us the lessons we need to learn in whatever loving way He knows is best. But if we treat people with compassion, we will have shown them love and consideration, even if from our limited perspective, they didn’t seem to deserve it.
Isn’t that what God does with us on a daily basis?—Continually showing unmerited mercy and love toward each of us, His undeserving and often wayward children. If every time we tried to get around doing what we should or tried to avoid doing His will or made a mistake or messed up He slapped us flat on our backs and lambasted and berated us for our failures, we couldn’t have stood it. If God had thrown the whole weight of the law at us when we broke it, we wouldn’t be around today.
It is good from time to time to ask ourselves some vital questions: How often do I critically point a finger at someone without knowing all the facts, or without stopping to “put myself in their place,” or “walk a mile in their shoes”? How often do I display a lack of love to others by criticism, impatience, condemnation, or lack of understanding?
Think of the times you’ve been harsh or unkind in some way with someone, criticized them, or hurt them in some way. Would you have acted differently if you had known that they would not be with you the next day? And how about those who have been treated with a lack of concern and lack of understanding, those who did die the next day? Died in hope, died in faith because they felt that love was gone.
We hate to think of these things, dear ones; it hurts a lot, but perhaps if we can learn from our mistakes, hopefully we won’t repeat them.
Will you commit yourself right now to make a sincere and wholehearted effort to love others as Jesus has loved you, to love them because “the love of Christ constrains you,”3 to let Jesus shine through you to show His compassion, His concern, and His understanding?
Will you make it your prayer daily to say, “Jesus, please help me to have love today for those I work with, for those I teach, for those I talk to. If I don’t accomplish another thing today, help me to have shown love to each person I encounter—a hug or a touch for those who need encouragement; compassion for those who need to know I understand; patience for those who are confused and doubting; wisdom for those who need to share their heart but don’t know how; tolerance with those who seem not to be trying hard enough; prayer for those who are burdened; loving care and understanding for those who are sick; a helping hand to those who are struggling with some task.”
If you can’t figure out what someone’s going through and you are tempted to criticize or judge them for what looks to you like physical, emotional, or spiritual problems—or whatever kind of problems they may be facing—ask the Lord to help you to not lean to your own understanding. Ask Him to help you have His merciful point of view and understanding of the situation. We have a great God who loves and cares and who delights in answering our questions and giving guidance. Ask Him to show you what the actual situation is and how you can possibly help, and He will.
“Now abideth faith, hope, and love, these three. But the greatest of these is love.”4 My greatest wish for each of us would be that we all have fervent love for others, that we can love others as Jesus has loved us.5 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”—love not for an hour or just for a day, but always.6
Dear Lord, may we have love that never stops caring, love that never lets go, love that holds on through the tough spots. Love that pulls others through, looks beyond. Love that bears, that carries, that heals. Love that never runs out, that knows no boundaries.
Let’s make a commitment to pray daily for Jesus to fill each of us with His love so that we can pour His healing balm on all we meet and so that we can do to others as we would want them to do to us. Let’s pray that He will give us His mind and His heart, which are loving, caring, compassionate, understanding, concerned, kind, and sacrificial for the well-being of others.
Jesus said, “I came to seek and save that which is lost ... even as My Father hath sent Me, so send I you.”7 The little sheep that is lost in the brambles may be any one of your brothers, sisters, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, or neighbors who may be lost in discouragement, lost in confusion, lost in condemnation, lost in doubts, lost in weariness, lost in pain.
Can you take up Jesus’ commission to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead? Heal the sick in body and spirit by your loving words, cast out doubt and condemnation through your understanding love, raise the “dead” whose hope has died by expressing faith and confidence in them. Cleanse the “lepers” who feel unclean, undeserving, unrecognized, unwhole, by your unconditional love and acceptance.
“Freely ye have received, freely give.”8
Originally published September 1994. Adapted and republished March 2019.
Read by Irene Quiti Vera.
1 1 Corinthians 13:3.
2 Matthew 22:39; 1 John 3:16.
3 2 Corinthians 5:14.
4 1 Corinthians 13:13.
5 1 Peter 4:8; John 13:34.
6 John 13:35.
7 Luke 19:10; John 20:21.
8 Matthew 10:8.