Thursday, December 13, 2018

COMPASSION: A Priceless Christmas Gift

But go and learn what this means.
I desire mercy, not sacrifice...
(Matthew 9:13a)
As I have matured and become somewhat limited in my finances as a retiree, I've ceased trying to find the perfect Christmas gift for others!  I'm sort of done with asking the grand kids for their list and then rushing all around town trying to fulfill their wishes!

I'm thankful that I no longer have to participate in Secret Santa gift exchanges and cookie swaps at work.   Yes, they were fun at the time but grew mundane year after year.  Then it's that tedious chore of  shopping for obligatory gifts.  You know, those gifts you buy individuals out of guilt, because they buy you one every year!  Of course when you find something suitable it has to be of the same quality and price range as the one they bought you so as not to appear cheap! Does anyone beside me think that to give without any thought but price is shallow and hypocritical?

When it comes to giving Christmas gifts this year, I'd like you to consider one that is actually appropriate all year around but is rapidly falling into oblivion...compassion!  One of the down sides of having access to 24/7 media is that we are bombarded with our world's brokenness and soon become desensitized to it.  I must confess, I'm no longer shocked at the perversion and violence going on in my city.  Concerned,  Yes!  Shocked hardly! What my local news misses, I can catch in the form of made from real life movies; reality or talk shows.  If I'm not careful, I sink into the same kind of negativism and apathy as the world!  This should not be so!

Compassion is not the same as empathy (although close).  The lack of it is not always apathy!  One can feel very strongly, even pray for a situation without really getting involved.   It goes much deeper than that.  True compassion can be seen demonstrated by the Lord, Jesus, Christ.  It is identifying with the pain and suffering of another although keenly aware of the circumstances and consequences that caused it.  It's seeing others as God sees them!  Broken but still of value! 
Looking beyond where people are to where they could be or were meant to be!

In the Gospel of John we find Jesus moved with compassion to intervene in the life of two women: The Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:4-26 and the woman caught in adultery in  John 8:1-11.  Both women were considered social outcasts in their religious communities.  No doubt past decisions and current lifestyles put them in the predicament they were in, but Christ never condemned them! He not only felt their pain (He was considered a rebel and outcast to the Pharisees) which is empathy; but He did something to make their lives better.  That's compassion! 

On our current political scene, hundreds are at U.S. borders trying to escape poverty, drugs, and violence in their birth countries.  I understand the immigration pundits "hard line" defense.  But history tells us that they have not always taken this stance.  It is the color of the immigrants it seems that makes a difference.  In any case I must agree with Laura Bush's quote from earlier this year  in regard to the immigration issue: "Can we not find a kinder, more compassionate and moral answer?

We seemed to have lost both empathy and compassion not only for those trying to get to America, but citizens born here.  When will we as, I heard said: "Stop looking at issues through the eyes of the pocket book" and do something about them.  People are dying for lack of affordable healthcare insurance and those with it compromise their standard of care because of the rising cost of prescriptions and premiums to keep it.  Yet pharmaceutical and insurance companies are thriving.  The CEOs of these companies empathize with the situation (they get sick and die too) but because their ability to afford healthcare comes from the profit they make off others, compassion seems somewhat lacking. 

There's not much we can do on the national or global scene but we can demonstrate compassion now, right where we are!  As the body of Christ, let's stop politicizing compassion, picking and choosing who we will pray for, minister to, invite to our churches.  Let's reserve judgement of a person until we've first taken time to know them.  Everybody has a story....stop and listen!  Don't just pray about a situation, get involved in a "real, significant" way.  God did this for us when He sent His Son, Jesus to die for our sins (John 3:16)!   He had compassion for our brokenness and every wretched life style that existed.   Don't you think it's time to do the same.  Let's RE-GIFT COMPASSION this Christmas.  It just might make a difference!


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