I recently held a conversation with someone I have known all my life. The subject of compassion came up and he expressed to me that he wished that he could have had compassion for others in his life. His lifetime is nearly gone, and now he is a sickly old man. On the one hand, he states that he laments the fact that he is completely devoid of compassion for others, and yet to listen to him it doesn’t sound like he has changed one iota and thus seems devoid of remorse and repentance.
Throughout his life, he cared about no one other than himself and the situation has been compounded by the fact that he “looks down on” and dislikes anyone that is not like him. This includes all races other than Caucasians. He is totally unconcerned with the plight of the poor. He detests anyone who is tortured by alcoholism, drug addiction, or any other infirmity that could have been avoided. According to him: “if the person had been a “strong” and ‘Good Christian” he wouldn’t have fallen.
Anyone who has made a serious mistake like unwed pregnancy, or possibly a brush with the law is on his “list”. He doesn’t want anyone to live in “our” country unless they are true “Americans”. (Arguing that we are a nation made up of immigrants is a waste of time as is my pointing out that America offers many people their only real hope of having a better life, and that most of these people perform work that is needed and no one else wants to do, is immediately cut off).
As I listened to him, he made it sound as if having compassion for others is an inherited trait. In fact, he alluded to the fact that my mother, whom he knew very well, was compassionate for others and that I had probably inherited this trait of weakness from her.
I thought to myself, “Wait a minute here, is compassion an inherited trait like freckles or red hair?” I don’t think so. It is a choice plain and simple. I do not believe that deciding to give people the benefit of the doubt and to cast aside judgment and condemnation of people who have made mistakes, (leaving judgment to the Lord), or being willing to offer a helping hand is inherited. Feeling sorry for the poor and unfortunate and trying to help them somehow is not a trait that is contained in our DNA, it is spiritual in every sense of the word and emanates from Jesus.
I realize that I have no right to “look down” on anyone. I have led such an error-filled life that I could hardly point the finger at anyone for making mistakes. Also, I have been very poor and homeless and realize that it is not always the fault of the homeless person that they are in that condition, and even if it is, we should be interested in helping them to help themselves out of such a predicament. We are commanded by Jesus Christ to treat everyone as we would like to be treated and I believe that the Spirit who lives within us helps us to follow that command, provided we ask for His help.
I am so glad that Jesus Christ has compassion. I have made so many stupid and often rebellious mistakes that if Jesus was not merciful and compassionate, I would bust Hell wide open, and deservedly so. This man may not realize it, but so would he. We all would!
A friend whom I really respect, once told me that his primary goal in life was to be more like Jesus. The first step in that process would be to have compassion. The one trait of Jesus that stands out beyond all others in my mind is His compassion for every soul on this planet. He took the punishment that I deserve and that you deserve; He deserved no punishment because He never sinned . . . He had such compassion for us that he lowered Himself from His exalted position on His throne and willingly allowed evil people to beat Him, spit on Him, treat Him shamefully, and then crucify Him. He did it for all races and all types of people so they could live eternally with Him. All had made mistakes, and yet there is no mistake too great for Him to forgive to those who believe in Him and ask for His forgiveness.
We have a CHOICE of whether we follow His lead or go our own way. One leads to paradise and one to hell. It has nothing to do with inherited traits and freckles. It is about first realizing that we are not perfect, and then following God’s only Son’s commands.
“This is My commandment,
that you love one another as I have loved you.”