There was a woman who had just had a child. A month previous, her husband decided he loved another woman and left the one whom he promised to die loving and the child they had created together. He took everything. She was left with nothing aside from a bulging belly and bulging credit card debt which he had been transferring to her name over the past year "in order to get a better interest rate" he said. In the twinkling of an eye, she became a homeless, destitute mother-to-be in the cold.
There was another woman who had a children several years ago. She decided she no longer loved her husband and left him, taking with her their son and daughter. That was three years ago. Since then, she has lived with a revolving-door cast of boyfriends, girlfriends and a combination of both at various times. She discovered drugs and alcohol brought a euphoric high she had seldom experienced with her old life. The job she had for nearly a year she quit last month because she no longer wanted to work. Her current boyfriend was bringing in more than enough money for the both of them. Two weeks ago, he was arrested on charges of possession with the intent to sell crack. Almost all of their possessions were confiscated as evidence. She could no longer afford rent. In the twinkling of an eye, she became a homeless, destitute, drugged-out mother of two.
The above stories, both based on actual people, are quite different, but end up the same. The question I ask: when you finish each story...is your compassion the same? I know, for me, when Amy told me the different stories that my compassion was not the same. The first situation, in my eyes, is much more heartbreaking. My heart aches for this young mother who has been abandoned and must suffer alone. The second...I think she made a load of bad decisions and is now paying for her bad judgement. The first, the compassion easily flows from my spirit. With the second, the compassion is caught behind a wall of karma-like justice, reason and rhetoric. Compassion for the second is difficult to muster, at best. After all, God helps those who help themselves, right? (EVERYONE, please answer that with a resounding NO!)
I would venture a guess that the same may be true of you, though. Life is full of people whom compassion for is a difficult chore. It may be because of what they did to get in that situation. It could be some vain, innate sense of entitlement they have that rubs us the wrong way. It may even be how they treat us and others that makes compassion difficult.
The question I arrive at is what kind of compassion does Christ has for these two woman? The answer is obvious: the cross. Christ endured the suffering and death of the cross for both those who are oppressed and hit by crap circumstances beyond their control along with those who make poor choices and suffer the consequences. If you question that, let me ask this: how much of your sin is accidental and caused by something/someone else? Every day we have lived and will continue to live on this earth is full of deliberate, fool-hardy, and sinful choices. Every day is full of us turning our backs on the right choice for a convenient and easy one. Yet...there is the cross. This instrument of death that when combined with an unblemished, beautiful Lamb brings life to those who are wilfully at war with their Creator.
Praise God that His compassion is not difficult! If it was not so, we would continue to be a homeless and destitute people. The cross...the incredible compassion of God, thankfully, has been lavished upon us and made us vagabonds into children of the Almighty.
May our compassion be less difficult, flowing from the heart of God (instead of our own), and our wisdom abound as we meet and do life with those around us who have physical, emotional and spiritual need.
So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. --Luke 15:20