Since I lead a Sunday school adult bible study class and am always inspired by the discussions we have there, I decided that I would share some of that here with you all. Our class is called The Goodlife and I truly believe that by applying the things we learn in that class and growing the friendships we make through the class my life has really become a good one. So why not share the love here, too?
Well, our series discussion the past few weeks and for the upcoming month or so is based on a book by Max Lucado called Just Like Jesus. Each week, we look at a different quality Jesus displayed in his life and how and why we should strive to do the same in ours. Now, I don't want to get "preachy" here....but no matter what way you look at it Jesus is a real man in our history who lived a pretty exemplary life. You may not believe he's the resurrected Son of God, or that he performed miracles, or anything of that nature about him and that is fine - it's your beliefs and I don't judge what beliefs bring peace, hope, happiness, etc to others. Even if you don't believe all the things Jesus is in a Christian religion, the way he lived is still something to be admired. For example, who can deny that living with a compassionate heart is something we, as well as others in our lives, could all benefit from. That was today's discussion - a compassionate heart.
What is compassion? Webster's English Dictionary describes compassion as "a sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it". So compassion is not only feeling for the person, but also doing something to relieve the problem. I think there are many of us who are sympathetic to others. We see others in need, feel bad about it, and then don't physically DO anything to change it. WHY?
We talked about this a lot today in class. Why is it so HARD to readily show compassion to others? Well, there is the cynicism of whether or not we are being taken advantage of, the fear that our caring will not be well received, the fact that (we think) there isn't a way for us to help or that we don't have the time, money, knowledge, etc to do what is necessary. You know what Jesus did? He kept on giving! That doesn't mean you have to extend yourself beyond your means or continue to support harmful behaviors/decisions in the name of compassion. Even Jesus left healing the sick to go and help his dear friend Mary and her sick brother Lazarus. And even Jesus was angry with the Pharisees and religious powers of that time and didn't extend his hand to them for the sake of knowing they were only trying to bring his demise.
The point is to not hold back your compassion where you can give it. Everyone has something they can give to others - from the biggest acts of kindness like a stranger giving $100,000 to a homeless man, to the basic ones like cooking a meal for someone who is injured/has a new baby/lost a loved one, to the smallest ones like having an actual conversation with your cashier at the grocery store. There is no act of compassion too small. All you have to do is open your eyes and your heart and extend your hand, smile, shoulder, timetable, (fill in the blank here) to help make a difference in this world. I challenge you, as well as I am challenging myself, to find a way to show compassion to someone this week, every day if possible. How do you plan to show your compassion this week? Also, share your experience - has anyone showed compassion to you once that you remember and cherish?