One of the best things that Jesus has done for me is fill me with compassion. I actually care about other people. I actually love other people. This has not always been the case.
True Story: I remember as a teenager driving around with some friends when we saw a kid, about five years old crash his bike really hard into a culvert. My immediate reaction was to burst out laughing. Even though it was obvious that the kid was hurt, it struck me as really funny. Served him right for - for - well - who cared. It served him right. I remember my friends looking at me kind of weird but since I had opened the door for this behaviour they also started to laugh - a little. I thought about how they looked at me from time to time but mostly I just pushed it out of my mind.
True Story: I’m twelve years old and I’m kicking around a gopher that I’d just shot. My mother is commenting on how, “You’re so hard hearted.” Damn straight! I was seething with anger back then. Screw the world. I blamed it on my arthritis which started when I was ten, but who knows, maybe I was just born hating.
True Story: I remember in the middle of my stoner years. A co worker and I were driving around and he said (I can even tell you the exact street corner where he said it) “You don’t give a fuck about anybody do you?” What bothered me more than the comment was the fact that he actually admired me for that. He wanted to be like me. What an idiot. I didn’t even want to be like me.
Fast forward twenty years. Jesus has brought me to my knees. I’ve got nothing left. I’m empty. My arrogance has been squeezed out of me. My pride pummelled and pounded until it threw in the towel. The Hound of Heaven had run me to ground with His Love. I once knew what it was like to not care about anyone but myself. I now know what it’s like to love, especially to love those who are struggling to stay alive.
True Story: My 1:00 had just arrived for his counselling appointment. He was terribly agitated. When I asked “What’s up?” he explained that he’d planned to kill himself that morning. On the way to his appointment he decided that he’d run a red light in the hopes that someone would hit his vehicle and kill him. What made him so angry, however, was that he encountered only green lights all the way to the office. He was furious over that fact. His fists were clenched so tightly that his knuckles were absolutely white. His jaw was clenched. He was breathing rapidly. The guy was fairly vibrating.
I asked John (I’ll call him John ‘cause that’s his real name) (I’ve always wanted to say that), “What would have happened if you hadn’t been killed? What if instead you’d hit someone else’s car and killed a child’s dad? What if you’d crippled a child for life?”
John looked up, stared slack-jawed into space for a bit and then broke down sobbing. So caught up was he in his own rage and despair that it had never occurred to him that someone else might be hurt. So desperate was he to end his own life, it never occurred to him that he might have taken the life of someone who wanted to live.
John became a Christian. He was treated for depression. He became so thankful that God had allowed him to live that morning and he began to live his life for others. He quit taking from life and began giving.
If God could do that for him, He can do that for you as well.
True story: A man was sitting on a pier in Boston harbour in the 1920's. He was enjoying the sun. He was enjoying the day. Another group of people, sightseers, came along. One of the sightseers left the group and walked along the peer. Just as he neared the guy sitting there, the sightseer tripped on a rope, fell off the pier and into the icy water. Not being able to swim, the drowning man called for help. The man’s friends could not get there in time, while the first man just sat on the pier and watched the man die. The group found out that the man sitting on the pier was quite a good swimmer and probably could have saved their friend’s life. Infuriated by the man’s callousness, the group sued.
While all of us can empathise with the group of friends, the court could do nothing. Even when the man said to the court, “Life has no meaning, no purpose. What’s he got to live for?” there was nothing to be done. You can’t legislate empathy. You can’t even force empathy. From my own case, I know of no way of obtaining empathy for those of us who begin life without it. However, this I do know. When Jesus enters a person’s soul, when Jesus takes command of a person’s will and desire, Jesus’ love and mercy and patience and empathy transforms a person’s life to one worth living. I thank God everyday for His provision of salvation.
How about you? Do you have compassion for others? Would you like to have compassion for others? Jesus is the source.
“All good things and every perfect gift is from above, coming down to us from the Father of Heavenly lights, in whom there is no changing or shifting like shadows.” James 1:17