This is part three of the ‘Christ-like’ series – if you’d like to catch up, feel free to click through on the links below:
The next attribute of christlikeness I’d like to unpack is compassion.
COMPASSION = THE HEART OF CHRIST
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
Matthew 14:13-14 NIV
Compassion is our ability to connect our heart with our eyes. To not just see something, but allow ourselves to feel it too. As we read again the above scripture, we see Jesus modelling a process. He saw the people, and in His seeing, He opened His heart up to take on their pain and burdens – this is what compassion is, to feel what others feel, to take on the hurts of an individual or group of people.
Check out this clip; a great example of compassion…
It’s important to understand that there are 2 parts to compassion:
- Feeling the pain or suffering of another
- Desire to help alleviate that pain
Compassion isn’t about feeling for someone in pain and yet having no desire to help, it’s about feeling something and having a deep sense of motivation to do something about it.
Compassion was one of Christ’s great motivators – It’s what compelled Him to reach out to the people around Him and it’s what can motivate us to help those suffering in our world.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort
2 Corinthians 1:3 NIV
Before we are ever compassionate, even before Christ was compassionate, God the Father was compassionate; He is called the Father of compassion.
None of us have the emotional strength to carry all the burdens of those around us, this can be dangerous territory for those of us who are more naturally geared towards compassion, because we want to help everybody.
We see elderly people by themselves and our hearts break, we watch a rugby game and worry for the player getting tackled, we see a singer auditioning on The Voice and can’t handle it when no chairs are turned.
We need to make sure we are not the hero of every story and that we are daily relying on God’s strength to help carry the burdens of others. This is crucial if we want to keep ourselves healthy and buoyant in life and in ministry.
Below is a scripture that’s helped me navigate the balance between helping others and creating a space for them to help themselves.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.
Galatians 6:2-5 NIV
This scripture talks about the difference between BURDENS & LOADS – a burden is any struggle that someone is facing that as representatives of Christ, people aiming to be Christ-like in all we do, we are called to help people carry. A load, on the other hand, is the personal responsibility each of us have for our own lives to overcome these struggles.
At the end of the day, we can help people walk through the different struggles in life, but they have to carry the responsibility to grow, learn and find the breakthrough. The moment we try and take the responsibility for somebody else’s breakthrough, we disempower them and stop the experience forming them into a stronger person.
Hope this has helped!