February 27th 2013
“Be compassionate, just as God is compassionate.” Luke 6:36
In Leviticus 19:2, the command is to “Be holy, as God is holy.” Jesus, who was steeped in the teachings of the Old Testament, uses this same language, yet puts a new spin on the character of God and the notion of what it means to follow God. God is not just holy. God is compassionate. We get the word compassion from two Latin words: “feel” (passion) and “with” (com).
Compassion basically means to “feel with,” “suffer with,” or “identify with” another human being. So the command is now to “feel with” other people because God “feels with” other people. When human beings “feel with” other humans, it is hard to dismiss them. Elie Weisel, a Jewish holocaust survivor, points out that without compassion our neighbor “is of no consequence.” When our neighbor doesn’t matter, it’s hard to really live out Jesus’ mandate to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (The Promise Effect, p. 160)
Reflect & Discuss
Walk in the shoes of another person for a day, or even a few hours. This might take some creativity.
First, select a person that you want to "feel with." Pray, and when God brings someone to mind, think about what this person's life is like.
Then consider what adjustments you might make during your simulation to feel the things that this person feels. Are there physical limitations you could approximate? Are there problems with sight or hearing? Or is the limitation economic? Could you live on a meager budget for a day or a week? Can you grab others to play-act a situation from this person's work or family?
Try to understand experientially what that person's life is like and that will open up all sorts of compassion in you--guaranteed. Share with us your new understanding of that person; tell us what new compassion has been unleashed!
Lord, my personal tendency is to look out for myself, to focus on my own pain, to see the world through my perspective. Move me to a bigger place—a place with a bigger heart, a bigger vision of the world, a deeper sense of empathy and understanding.