This sermon in the Living Simply series can be listened to by clicking on the title link above.
Tidbits from the sermon:
We really end up complicating our lives if we try to avoid people with needs. They pop everywhere; at home, in our extended families, at work and in the community at large. We often feel like people who have needs complicate our lives. What really complicates our lives is how we respond to them.
Attitudes of belittling, self-righteousness, and a critical spirit destroys people with great need. God honors the one who honors him by showing compassion.
These attitudes creep in because people with need often create conflict with our incomplete theology of suffering. We think, if there’s a need we must fix it. So needs often overwhelm us. We think that if God loves and blesses then if someone is in need, God must not be blessing and God must not be happy with that person (see the book of Job).
Simply offering compassion simplifies our lives. It sees people as valuable. It makes room for them in our lives. It offers kindness instead of judgment.
Proverbs 14:31 “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but however is kind to the needy honors God.”
1. Compassion keeps us from actions that hurt God’s purposes.
2. Compassion keeps us from attitudes that destroy people.
3. Compassion keeps us aligned with God’s reward.
It is wiser and simpler to offer compassion to those in need.
These are questions texted in at the end of the sermon.
Q1:: Being compassionate to everyone can lead to others taking advantage of you. How do we balance being compassionate and being a “push-over?”
A:: I answered this a bit on Sunday, but incompletely. So, here goes. I think we envision compassion as a weak response. Compassion isn’t weakness. It is a strong move to care for someone in need. We don’t do it because we feel pressured to but because we choose to. Compassion also doesn’t mean we always do what people think they want or need. Sometimes compassion discerns what are the greater needs and acts in line with those. What compassion does do is, it encourages us to always value the other person, no matter what they’ve done or are doing. It also means to always offer grace. We may not know all the factors that have led that person to the point of great need. Instead of focusing on their failures we can and should help them find a path to wholeness.
Q2:: How are we supposed to act in compassion when an individual continues to harm you and your family?
A:: This is a good question. We know a lot people in their own need turn around and hurt others. Compassion doesn’t mean we allow that to continue. We also have to show a protective compassion toward our family, those who are being hurt. We also have to know, like I said above, that confrontation and truth can be one important aspect of compassion. Compassion doesn’t allow people to continue being hurt. It speaks the truth. But it always offers a path of redemption and reconciliation. Because compassion always sees each person as created in the image of God. And no one is beyond the redemptive reach of Christ.
When have you found compassion to the be the hardest?
What do you think about compassion being a simpler response than avoidance, cynicism, or criticism?
Would love to read your comments!