What is compassion? Think about the passion of Jesus Christ. Using this context, compassion is to “suffer together”. The bible says:
The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion;
slow to anger, and of great mercy.
The Lord is good to all:
and his tender mercies are over all his works. (Psalms 145:8 -9)
Long-suffering and patience are two fruits of the spirit that are found in Galatians 5:22. Suffering together is difficult when you haven’t learned how to suffer your own problems.
When I say suffer your own problems. I am hinting around at the idea of being kind to the self. Being kind to one’s self is a basic piece of cultivating proper compassion. Compassion is an important value to have. It’s an essential social skill for life’s journey. Jesus was the ultimate example of compassion. He was a friend to Rahab, a prostitute. This woman after time had passed became a believer in Jesus.
I experienced the same kind of compassion with a past birthday surprise. I remember my cousin Daniel taking me out for my birthday. It happened at a time when I didn’t have anyone to celebrate with me. I was sitting at home with nothing to do, and I got a call from him with a surprising treat from IHOP. My past birthday was a similar show of compassion. I spent the day with my best friends. I had cake, bowling, lunch, and dinner. I travel away from home to a new restaurant and had the chance to reconnect with an a acquaintance that I attended high school with. I was moved by the idea that someone appreciated me enough to give me a birthday full of fun, laughter, and connection.
Psalms 142 is a great example of compassion for one’s self. The song is a song of distress. It makes known the pain of heartache. It showcases briefly and directly that whole tragedy of the human condition.
Verse 6 says: Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.
In my opinion, this verse is the strongest indication of the writer’s purpose. It lays the “problem” at the savior’s feet, and asks for coverage.
When pride is out of control in the human psyche, compassion for self is difficult to claim. We want to be superman, superwoman, superperson, or superworker.
We literally run the risk of mis-interpreting the purpose, of “I can do all things, through Christ which strengthens me.” Mis-understanding this acknowledgment leads us to kill ourselves by doing more than we should do to achieve a goal.
We usually miss verse 5, which tells us: “Let your moderation be known until all men. Having the passion for Christ, is practicing having compassion for yourself.
One of the hardest problems of human life, is admitting that the problem is you. Sometimes finding the peace of Christ means finding the strength to be honest with yourself in the face of a shameful and guilty environment.
What is a shameful and guilty environment? Any environment in which pressing issues have lingered on and no one confronts each other. Sometimes a lack of compassion is super-imposed on by guilt.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
We aren’t Jesus himself… but we can be like Jesus and have the patience to help many. However, before we can help the “multitude”, we must not have a “multitude” of other problems.
Our compassion for others is also an indication of the faith we have. If we don’t help those those that needs us, and we have the capacity to do so… we do lose out on pleasing the God that made us all.