LifeLink Devotions (Click on link for audio version)
Monday, November 29, 2021
I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving. Let’s pick up where we left off last Wednesday with our study of the nine characteristic behaviors of a mature Christian as described by Paul in Ephesians 4. Today we focus on kindness and compassion. Here are a couple of verses to get us started.
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
There are two words for kindness in the New Testament: one speaks of philanthropy, or having a giving heart toward mankind. The other, used here, speaks of moral integrity that provides whatever is needed. Philanthropy can become self-serving, but true kindness never does. In fact, the word “kind” in Ephesians 4 means “employed”, so as mature Christians we are to be of such moral integrity that we are always usefully employed in the meeting of the needs of others.
There is a necessary connection between kindness and compassion. Compassion is the English translation of the Greek words meaning “bowels of mercy.” In other words, to have compassion is to have your gut wrenched by the needs of another person – to feel it deep in the pit of your stomach because you so sympathize with their condition. As a result of that connection with a person in need, your moral integrity employs you to meet that need. That’s the teamwork of compassion and kindness in the life of a mature Christian.
I must confess that my compassion for the needy has become qualified by the abusers of my kindness. Too many times I have experienced professional needers whom I have helped, only to discover that they are doing nothing to help themselves. The serious consequence of these experiences has been that my ability to be compassionate has been deadened to a degree. I qualify my emotional response to their condition by judging their personal responsibility for that condition. “They will just have to live with those consequences” becomes the rationalization of non-involvement. Of course wisdom from God is essential in making decisions of what kind of help to give in every situation, but the acts of kindness are not my main concern here. What I’m troubled by is the loss of compassion in my heart, and maybe in yours.
When was the last time we were moved in the pit of our stomach by a news story about starving children? How driven to action are we by the obvious needs of a sin-sick society of people living around us every day? How many of us are simply glad that we are sufficiently removed from those people that they do not influence our lives? How many of us are tempted to live by the philosophy of self-preservation and personal contentment?
My friends, may the Holy Spirit of God remind us of our condition according to Colossians 3:12 – “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved” – we who were sinners are now holy, and we who were unlovely are now loved. As children of God and mature followers of Jesus Christ our Savior, show the same tender compassion and kindness to others that has been shown to you by God. Just as God feels and responds intimately to every need of our lives because His very nature employs Him to do so, so should we feel and respond intimately to the needs of others because His nature in us employs us to do so.