The Inconvenience of Compassion

On Sunday we looked at Jesus feeding the 5000 in John 6. It's a remarkable story. What causes it to have huge relevance for me is the setting for the story. Jesus was still grieving the death of his friend John the Baptist and was exhausted after a demanding season of ministry. Needing some space to recover emotionally and spiritually he invites the disciples to pull away for some much-needed rest (Mark 6:31-34). Not surprisingly the crowds follow Jesus. When Jesus sees them he sets aside his grief and need for rest to respond with compassion.

I'm not sure I would have responded that way. I love to serve people. But I've also grown pretty protective of my personal space. And when I've planned to get away, well, best not to get in my way. When I put myself in the story I'm embarrassed to admit I probably would have felt inconvenienced and put out by the expectations of these folks. Sure I would have felt compassion. But would I have shown compassion?

Displaying compassion is rarely convenient. It always seems to cost me something in the moment.

Last weekend the couple leasing our house in Marietta went through a really traumatic experience. We barely know them. Someone manages the house for us so we have little contact with them. We know nothing about their spiritual journey. But when I learned what had happened I gave them a call one morning. I wasn't prepared for their emotion as they described the pain they've experienced. The sadness stayed with me all day. When I shared the story with Verna we both felt led to find a way to express our compassion. At first we discussed the 'convenient' options - like sending flowers or a card. We quickly realized a more personal gesture was needed. But making the trip up to Marietta was less convenient and more costly for us. When I called back later that same day to share that we would like to take them out to dinner Saturday...because we felt sadness for all they had experienced...they were deeply touched by the gesture.

Displaying compassion is rarely convenient. It always seems to cost me something in the moment.  Maybe that's what makes it such a compelling gesture...a gesture people trust...a gesture that gives us access to the hearts of people.

Fighting for your hearts,

Gary Franklin

Reflections for your spiritual journey:

  1. Reflect upon the tension between the compassion you feel and the compassion you actually display?
  2. What prevents gestures of compassion from being displayed with more freedom in your story (inconvenience, cost, fear. etc.)?
  3. This week ask Christ for an opportunity to display compassion with a tangible gesture...and as a gesture of trust in His leading...take the step!