Falling asleep last night, I found myself thinking on the difference between my having pity on a person and my having compassion. Both of these traits are important parts of who we are as believers in Christ but, right before entering a night of satisfying rest, I made the mental note that pity just doesn’t go far enough. I must become a Christian with greater compassion for others in whatever time I have remaining here below. Let me tell you why this is becoming more important to me.
Pity hurts for someone. Compassion hurts with someone. Pity offers to pray earnestly for a needy soul – and Pity will actually do so. Compassion senses a personal call during that same prayer to give that needy soul what it requires – and Compassion will actually do so. Pity recognizes a need to assist another person, and Pity sincerely hopes that the need will soon be met. Compassion is compelled to assist that person without wasting another moment wondering to whom the opportunity to help belongs. Pity discerns rightly that something should be done for one who is weak. Compassion has that same discernment, and adds to it the heartfelt sense of responsibility to look that weak one in the eye and sacrifice some personal strength on his behalf, doing whatever it can to share the burden. While Pity lingers Compassion leaps.
Compassion is Pity wearing a cap and gown with a Masters Degree in hand. Pity studies hard but never really graduates.
Today I encourage you to pause looking for the deep and hidden things of the Kingdom of God and seek instead to show compassion upon the first person you see whom you discern needs it. Some unloved child will find hope for today in your smile and hug. One who has experienced the death of a loved one doesn’t need your favorite verse from Habakkuk today, she needs a phone call or a visit. I would all but guarantee you that there is a young mother who spends all day with small children (and zero adult conversation) that would greatly benefit from a short phone call of encouragement from you today. That irritating, unsaved coworker that deserves nothing noble from you might wwould benefit from your kindness and compassion this week instead of the silent judgmentalism which he or she has come to expect from us Christians. Pity in your heart for these people might well salve your conscience by affirming that you care…but can these really be helped by Pity while it sits in neutral?
“And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him…” – Mark 1:41
From Jesus’ example above we note that Compassion moves. Compassion put forth. Compassion touches others at the point of their need. Your Savior taught you that.