What can we do to develop the habit of showing compassion? Let me share with you four important things to remember.
1. We must look beyond outward appearances.
In other words, don’t judge a book by its cover. In particular, don’t assume everyone is fine.
This is especially true in the part of Denver I live in. Douglas County is bright, shiny, wealthy, and everyone appears to be fine. Nice house, nice car, nice family, nice life.
Behind closed doors, many of those nice lives are falling apart.
2. We must be willing to care.
Elie Wiesel was a young Jewish boy who was a prisoner in the German concentration camp. As an adult, hee wrote the book Night based on his experience.
He had this to say about caring: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
Put another way: The opposite of love is simply not caring.
3. We must be willing to get close.
It is human nature to feel less compassion from a distance than in person. We watch the news on television or read a story on the internet and while it might catch our attention it rarely moves us to action.
This even seems to have been the case with Jesus. The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus being moved to compassion for someone when he encountered them in person.
4. We must recognize our role.
The mistake many well-meaning Christians make when it comes to helping people is that they think it’s their job to fix people. This is a classic example of role confusion.
In showing compassion to people, our job is not to play God with people but to bring God to people.