Compassion is a Christian Virtue

design-62Throughout the Bible and throughout church history, the people of God, when encountering hurting people, are filled with compassion. When people are victimized or suffer the pain of a tragedy, Believers are touched with feelings of “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others”: (dictionary.com) We feel empathy, mercy, sorrow, sympathy and tenderness. What we are not supposed to feel is: animosity, cruelty, mercilessness, harshness, hatred, indifference (a few antonyms of compassion.)

The Holy Spirit residing in us compels us to be sensitive to the needs of others. We are enabled to love and care about the conditions of the world and the people we meet. The unconditional love of God that has changed us, now operates within and through us. We love, not only in words, we love in deeds. This love produces compassion when we encounter suffering and pain in humankind.

Compassion doesn’t gloat in justice served. While we understand the laws of reaping and sowing, we don’t rejoice when punishment is served; we are sad that people have made the choices that lead to their punishment. Neither can compassion turn a blind eye when innocent people suffer. Regardless of the circumstances, when people are hurting, compassionate Christians are moved.

When people express pain, compassionate Christians don’t try to minimize the pain or change the focus of attention to another matter. Christians are supposed to listen, care, pray and act. If we do not, how will the hurting find hope?

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:35-36)

Or course, there are Gospel stories where Jesus appeared to be harsh to people. He openly rebuked some, even calling them names. The folks He rebuked were not the hurting, the victims of the suffering. Those Jesus rebuked were religious leaders who thought they were better than others, they considered themselves to be superior. They were the ones who twisted the Scriptures to support their uncompassionate way of life. But Jesus was compassionate to innocent hurting people – and even to the sinners who had made bad choices.

Whether it is a person of a different political persuasion, a different religion or a different ideology, compassion is a Christian virtue and it is vitally necessary that we express it. “Black Lives Matter!” – compassion. “Covid-19 is a conspiracy!” – compassion. CNN, Fox News, Democrat, Republican, black, white, rich, poor…the world needs Christian compassion. Without compassion the world is hopeless; the lost will remain lost.

Prayer: God, by the name of Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit, makes our hearts tender, create in us a new compassion for hurting people. Let the sensitivity and love of Christ be at work in the world through your Church and through me, a Believer. May we represent you well in these trying times. May the world see hope in us, in You.

Is it Time to Boycott the Boycotts?

boycott-1A powerful way to get what you want is to refuse to support. It works with companies, in friendships and in families. We are seeing an increase of people who are making strong statements about their values by cutting ties with those who disagree with them. We refuse to buy products, patronize businesses and support companies. In a manner of speaking, it works, but there are some results we should consider.

It’s getting more difficult to keep up with the list of banned companies. If we continue on current trends, we may run out of things to boycott.

Think about this- companies whose practices or policies are in opposition to our convictions can become the enemy. But here is the problem: they are not the enemy.

Coffee companies, theme parks and state governments are not the enemy. Our enemy is the devil. We are reminded in the Bible, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Another issue that will arise out of a boycotting mentality: communication breaks down. Once the conversations end, the possibility of agreement ends. Burned bridges are hard to rebuild. If we refuse to engage with others, we give up on the possibility of reaching people. Rather than coming to a place of understanding, even if the understanding is disagreement, we come to a place of hopelessness.

One more issue to bring up here: when we have a mentality of boycotting, we get used to being in control. Vendettas and revenge can make us feel powerful. If someone doesn’t do what we like, we can, through our withdrawal, control them. Well, we can’t actually control them but we can end the relationship. Is that the goal? I hope not.

Finally, what goes around comes around. Pastors who train church members to boycott in order to bring change shouldn’t be surprised if church members boycott the church in order to bring change. If we live by boycotting, we may die by boycotting. If we cut ties with others who disagree with us, we should expect those who disagree with us to cut ties with us. Soon, we will live a completely isolated life. It’s neither healthy nor logical to expect everyone to agree.

Let’s not get caught in the trap of boycotting. It may work for us to feel like we are in control, but we are not.

And if you don’t like my ideas, you can always boycott this blog site. Just kidding!