COMPASSION

A large part of living the Christian life is how we treat others. The writer of Hebrews says; “Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” (Hebrews 13:1-2)

Interesting idea isn't it, that when you show kindness to strangers, you could be showing kindness to one of God’s special messengers. Something as simple as helping a stranger change a flat, giving a ride to someone, buying a sandwich for a homeless person. This Bible text is saying that throughout the day God is placing people in your path, giving you the opportunity to engage them with compassion. Listen to what verse three says, “Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” It is saying, "Practice compassion." He mentions those in prison because in the first century there were many believers in prison —some because of their faith, and some because of their debt, because many Christians were poor. He's saying, “Imagine yourself in the position of those who are suffering.” The word is empathy. It means “understanding and entering into another person's feelings.” When you practice empathy, you can't help but practice compassion.

John Wesley once said, “Put yourself in the place of every poor man, and deal with him as you would want God to deal with you.” I would say, “Put yourself in the place of your employer, or your employees, put yourself in the place of your spouse, put yourself in the place of your children or your parents, put yourself in the place of those who don't measure up, of those who let you down, even put yourself in the place of those whose lives have been wrecked by sin, and deal with them as you would want God to deal with you.”

You know what? The world does not see Christ-followers as a compassionate people. They see you as judgmental. They see you as condescending. They see you as holier than thou. They see you as one affiliated with a member’s only club or they see you as part of one big political action committee. But the way the world needs to see you is as a person of compassion. Begin today to develop this important quality into your daily life.

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