ODJ: feeling compassion

February 4, 2016 

READ: Luke 10:25-37 

The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (v.29).

Stephen Crane’s story “The Open Boat” tells the tale of four men attempting to survive in a lifeboat at sea. One of the men ironically reflected on a poem he had read as a schoolboy about a soldier fighting in Algiers. The man realized that “he had never considered it his affair that a soldier of the Legion lay dying in Algiers, nor had it appeared to him as a matter for sorrow. It was less to him than breaking of a pencil’s point.” He hadn’t felt compassion for the soldier—until now.

The word compassion (Luke 10:33) literally means “to suffer with someone.” Our ability to feel others’ pain may be lacking until we find ourselves suffering through our own pain. We can so easily live selfishly—desiring to be kept from hardship and death. Like the expert in religious law who tested Jesus, we justify our own apathetic response when it comes to fulfilling the latter part of what Jesus said was the greatest commandment (v.27).

If narcissistic self-love is an effect of the fall, then we must understand what Jesus meant when He identified loving ourselves as the key to loving others (Romans 13:8-10). Not referring to eros (passion), phileo (brotherly love) or even storge (family affection), He commands us to live out God’s agape love, and in the words of C. S. Lewis, “Agape is all giving, not getting.”

Far more than an admonition to do good deeds, the Good Samaritan mirrors the power of the cross in his willingness to “suffer with” the injured man (Mark 8:31; Luke 24:44-47). Saving us from our sharpest place of desperation, Jesus showed great compassion as He gave His life for us. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, may we do no less for others (Luke 10:27).

—Regina Franklin

365-day-plan: Exodus 5:1-23

Read James 2:1-8 and consider how this passage reveals the importance of loving and caring for others. 
How can difficult circumstances be a training ground for learning compassion? What have you learned about compassion from others?