Summary: Ways to cultivate compassion. The greatest benefit of compassion is hope both for others and for ourselves.
HELP FOR HOPELESSNESS
Matt. 9:1-12; 14:14; 20:34 Mk. 1:40-42 John 14:12 Gal. 6:2-6 1 Sam. 16:7
If you’ve ever been on a roller coaster, then you may remember that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you’re on that first big drop. It’s very much like when you hear some horrible news. Your stomach feels like it’s just been kicked. The biblical word for that feeling is “splachna.” It literally translates as a person’s “guts,” but the Greek translate it as “compassion.” They believed that different human emotions come from different parts of our body. Love for instance, came from the heart; compassion was – so to speak – “a gut feeling”.
The only person in the Bible that this word is associated with is Jesus. It says that Jesus felt this way when He encountered the sick in Matthew 14:14, “When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.” And when he encountered the blind in 20:34, “Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they were healed.” and numerous other times. This morning I invite you to,
Please read with me from Matthew 9:1-12
Jesus’ caught the “teachers of the Law” off guard. If He had said, “Your sins are forgiven”, there would be no visible proof of it, and they could call it “blasphemy”. But the visible, physical healing of the paralytic was forgiveness WITH proof. This the teachers could NOT deny.
Our English word “compassion” comes from the Latin (com & pati) which together means, “suffering with others.” Some people possess a keen com-passion for the suffering of others. For some, it’s a gift. For others, it’s been cultivated. But Scripture tells us that all of us are called to have compassion whether gifted or not.
Here are some practical Ways to Cultivate Compassion:
1. We should see people through the eyes of Christ. Matthew 9:36 says, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
1 Samuel 16:7 tells us, “The lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
We’re so tempted to look at the outward appearance only and to judge others by their looks or by their success or their mistakes. This starts early in life.
The story is told of a father who had a daughter in 3rd grade. She came to him one evening and very emotionally asked, “Daddy am I pretty?” He said, “Of course you are honey.” Then he tenderly asked, “Why are you asking me if you’re pretty?” She said tearfully, “The boys in my school were saying who the pretty girls are, and they didn’t say my name.” Can you feel her pain? If so, you have “splachna” … compassion … and you don’t need to see a doctor.
What Christ demonstrated was evangelism beyond teaching. In healing others, • Jesus’ actions proved God’s love, and His compassion. You could even say, “Jesus’ actions added His exclamation mark.” Jesus wants us to know that: • The greatest benefit of compassion is hope both for others and for ourselves.
By our compassion, we not only give hope to others who are in distress, but we renew our own hope that the Holy Spirit dwells within us. But if we don’t feel compassion – if we’re often critical of others – then we really need to reassess the nature of the spirit within us.
A Deacon found his newly-appointed pastor standing at the second floor window of his church office. He was weeping as he looked over the inner city’s tragic conditions. The Deacon sought to console him and gently said: “Don’t worry. After you’ve been here a while, you’ll get used to it.”
The minister replied, “Yes, I know. That’s why I’m crying.”
Do we sometimes become calloused by seeing so many in need? Sometimes we do – but I don’t think we need to. What we need is action. I’m reminded of an old episode from the T.V. series, “MASH”. In it, Hawkeye was called “a fool for trying to change the way the world is.” He responded, “I know I can’t change the world … but I can change my little corner of it.”
Whenever I feel overwhelmed by so much need and so few resources, I remember those words. Maybe it’s because sometimes we relate so deeply that it hurts, and we feel helpless to make a real difference. Sometimes we’re so inundated with the pain of others that we just tune it out. Generally, it’s those with the most tender hearts that find the pain most unbearable.
There are so many people who are suffering. Some by the very nature of their work, are confronted with suffering more than others. For them, especially, it’s good to remember that, “With God there are no accidents – no coincidences.” If God sends someone who is suffering into your life, it’s because God knows that you can do something – something that can make a difference. As we read in Matthew 25:35, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in; I needed clothes and you clothed me; I was sick and you looked after me; I was in prison and you visited me.”