Character Trait No. 5
Definition: Giving whatever is necessary to meet another’s needs without expecting anything in return.
“And if you do good to those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? …do good and lend, expecting nothing in return…” Luke 6:32-35
“To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.” I Peter 3:8
Love is an action word, not merely a warm, nice mushy feeling towards our fellow man. It is also a noun. Love works, and likewise compassion, as a component of love, demands action as well. “Little children, let us not love with word or tongue, but in deed and truth.” I Jn. 3:18 “Deed and truth” = action. And action = WORK. John asked,
“But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” Jesus said that even the pagans take care of their own, but that we should do much better. The passage in Luke six contains very tough words for careful consideration by the disciple seeking perfection of character. Truly tough teachings of the Master Teacher! He said, “expecting nothing
in return.” Then, “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.” Sounds like, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” Matt. 5:48
Here’s a key concept: Be stingy with ourselves, but extremely generous with others. Give to the Lord and expect repayment by whatever spiritual or material blessings He deems appropriate. It boils down to one question: How BIG is your God? How big a bank account do you have in heaven? Paul wrote: “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19) Believing this will enable you give to help others … with a cheerful spirit, even if you are poor. Paul challenged the Corinthians to complete their pledge of help towards the impoverished persecuted saints in Jerusalem, by telling them of the great generosity of the “financially challenged” Macedonians. Paul wrote that they gave “beyond their ability” and out of a “great ordeal of affliction” and “deep poverty”. So once more we see that a person’s difficult circumstances are no barrier to demonstrating all of the necessary Christ-like character traits. It is not a matter of money, but of having faith and the desire to do right.
“Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have abundance for every good deed.” II Cor. 8:7-8
Notice the highlighted adjectives and adverbs. Don’t insult either God’s character or power by ascribing to Him either a parsimonious, stingy attitude or of Him being too feeble to help!
If we are ready, then God is able. A lack of compassion (“donor fatigue”) is nothing less than a lack of faith in the Almighty Creator God who rules the universe in glorious might. So get some faith and give, give and give until it hurts! Our generosity is a direct expression of our gratitude for being saved by grace. We were pathetic, dirty rotten sinners saved only by grace. BIG GOD =BIG COMPASSION. God Himself gives so much and often gets not even a simple, “thank you”, in return. Does this diminish Him somehow? No way, because God is totally inexhaustible. He gives huge amounts and isn’t reduced by one iota.
Compassion is best illustrated by the well-known good Samaritan story. (Luke 10:25f) Especially noteworthy is the question that the lawyer poised for Jesus: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Most definitely a salvation issue question, don’t you think? After telling this true story, the Lord said: “Go, and do the same.” (vrs. 37) Being compassionate is not just having good intentions. The road to hell is certainly paved with good intentions. We must translate our good intentions into actually doing the will of the Father.
The good Samaritan did what he did because of his character. Remember, character is what you really are deep down, as a result of habit. Heroes react differently than others because of thousands of right decisions previously made that created in them the power to act at the time of testing or trial. The other two scoundrels, the priest and the Levite, didn’t walk by the injured man because they were busier, more tired, poorer, or less trained in first aid techniques than the Samaritan. The simply lacked the character to really be compassionate when “crunch time” came. So they missed the proverbial boat, in this case, eternal life, according to Christ, because they didn’t do the kinds of things people who gain eternal life will do during stressful times of testing.
Some helpful hints to become a compassionate person:
- Tithe regularly. When you give for evangelism, you are really showing the greatest compassion of all, the compassion for peoples’ destitute spiritual condition and need for salvation. This money will not be for the local church, but for supporting the preaching of the gospel to others. We should not use our money for ourselves, or it is selfishness. Study about how the spreading is to be financed according to the New Testament. Those who are saved and taught should support the teachers to reach others. ( I Cor. 9; Gal. 6:4; III John; Phil. 4:15-19, etc)
- Put others first in your expenditures. Invite someone to eat at your table at your Christmas meal who is poor. Take in orphans and widows.
- Always volunteer for whatever you can. Volunteer means expecting no financial reimbursement at all! No T-shirts or free meals. Expect nothing - not even a public acknowledgment of what you’ve done.
- Carefully consider Christ’s sacrifice every Lord’s Day at the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper.
Come on, new creations, let’s at least be as compassionate as the good Samaritan – and then some!