Five Keys to Compassion
How much compassion we have affects the Work of God.

Ever heard the expressions, “Well, they deserve that,” “Serves them right,” or “Who cares? Not me”?

Every day the media beats down on us with negative news, pulling down discipline, crushing people’s character, attacking on all fronts the true values of nations, and sowing seeds of discord!

The media erodes confidence and sense of purpose. Added to that is the carefully cultivated “me first” attitude of so many!

As Daily Mail (London) journalist Melanie Phillips wrote in her June 7, 2004, article, “If World War ii had been fought with our current lethal attitudes, we would surely have lost it.”

I travel to many poverty-stricken, corrupt, disease-riddled Third World countries, and I have to fight off just accepting that, Well, that’s the way it is. It is so easy to believe or even say, “That’s not my problem!” We can become “unshockable”—unstirred by the utter helplessness of so many—uncompassionate in fact!

As God’s people, we need to think, I can’t wait to deal with that problem and help those people in every way possible!

In this article, I would like to discuss with you a subject that is critical to our being able to deal with people and their problems now and in the future: compassion! It is defined as fellow-suffering, pity, sympathy; ready to pity.

Taking an overview of this world, one could readily ask: Has a compassionate and caring attitude become obsolete?

Remember Paul’s warning in 2 Timothy 3:1-3 to those living in the last days. Verse 3 says people would be “without natural affection.” We in God’s Church must ensure we are not ensnared by the lethal attitudes of this world toward our fellow man.

In Mark 1:41, Christ gave us the example; “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.”

We must ask ourselves honestly before God, do we have compassion for the sufferings of others? How much compassion we have affects the fervency, the zeal, with which we yearn for Jesus Christ’s return. How much compassion we have affects the Work of God.

Here are five keys to compassion. In order to honestly express compassion, empathy and pity, we need to exercise these keys.

The first key is to listen. If we intend to be sympathetic and compassionate, we must listen!

The way to listen is to stop talking. We must be attentive, showing that we really do want to hear others’ problems. By listening, you are able to connect with others on more levels and develop stronger, deeper relationships because you are meeting a need. Everyone needs someone whom he or she feels really listens to them. When you become that important listener, you help that person. Give people the time they need to express themselves.

The second key is to show your desire to understand. Listen with the intent of understanding.

If you strive to put yourself in the other person’s place; your ability to understand him or her will increase. Ask yourself, What would I be looking for when seeking help from someone else? Strive to help carry another’s burden (Galatians 6:2).

No one can fully understand the pain another person experiences, so the person who hurts feels alone. When we respond to a hurting person, we are communicating; I want to understand your particular experience. I want to help you carry the burden.

The person who cares is sincerely humble, not pretentious—willing to learn, reluctant to impinge on the other’s privacy, and in no way inclined to look down on others from a “holier than thou” perspective.

Take the time to read and study Romans 12. This chapter is brim full of practical instruction for caring, compassionate people of God.

The third key is love. Compassionate, sensitive, giving love is of prime importance if effective compassion is to be generated. Such love is patient and kind. This love originates with God (Galatians 5:22-23).

The compassionate person is a patient person who stays with the one in need. Nineteenth-century author Henry Drummond wisely observed, “You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.”

Nobody can be told too often that he or she is loved. When you nurture people and add value to them without expecting anything in return, they feel significant. They realize they are valued and that they matter to others.

Key four is openness and trust. Compassionate people should seek to develop a genuine concern about others and should learn to honestly and openly show it.

Think about people who have really helped you. It is likely that such persons accepted you, believed in you, and had confidence in your ability to grow and to mature even when you may have had no confidence in yourself.

Belonging is one of the most basic human needs. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every man is a hero and an oracle to somebody, and to that person whatever he says has an enhanced value.”

Key five is hope. You can’t have true compassion for someone without giving them hope. Hope brings comfort, mobilizes our energy; it enables us to keep on going even in the midst of difficulties.

Each time you cast a vision for others and paint a picture of their future success, you build them up, motivate them, and give them reason to keep going. The compassionate person must exude hope!

More than any other person who has ever lived, Christ showed compassion (Luke 7:13; Matthew 4:23-24). Christ is to live in us (Philippians 2:5).

We all need to hearken to Peter’s words in 1 Peter 3:8: “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.”

Brethren, think on these things.