In Sunday’s text, Matthew reports that when Jesus looked out over the masses of people with all their needs and heartaches he had compassion on them. Now, we often think of having compassion on someone as simply experiencing the emotion of pity or sorrow because of another’s misfortune. We feel badly, for instance, that there are people today who do not have enough to eat. We feel badly that one of our neighbors has no family to visit them and keep them company. We feel badly and call that compassion.
Too, often we are like the loveable, but pathetic Winnie the Pooh wo once was taking a stroll along the river bank. Eeyore, his stuffed donkey friend, suddenly appears floating downstream on his back of all things. The donkey is obviously troubled about the possibility of drowning. Pooh calmly asks if Eeyore had fallen in.
Trying to appear in complete control, the anguished donkey answers, “Silly of me, wasn’t it.” Pooh overlooks his friend’s pleading eyes and remarks that Eeyore really should have been more careful. In greater need than ever, Eeyore politely thanks him for the advice (even though he needs action more than he needs advice).
Almost with a yawn, Pooh Bear notices, “I think you are sinking.” With that as his only hint of hope, drowning Eeyore asks Pooh if he would mind rescuing him. So, Pooh pulls him from the river. Eeyore apologizes for being such a bother, and Pooh, still unconcerned, yet ever so courteous, responds, “Don’t be silly . . . you should have said something sooner.”
True compassion, biblical compassion, isn’t just a feeling. It isn’t pity. It’s concerned action. This doesn’t always mean concerned rescue for there are many situations in which true rescue is beyond our ability to give. But true compassion, which positions us arm in arm with another who suffers (the word literally means to suffer with), puts us on the lookout for salvation alongside them. Think of the story of the Good Samaritan, the Levite and the priest undoubtedly felt badly for the injured man, but only the Samaritan showed the man compassion. Why? Because he moved from feelings to action. Did he solve all the injured man’s problems? No, but he certainly joined the man on the road to healing.
Ask the Lord, today, to fill you with compassion for those whose paths you cross.
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that's your job, to bless. You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing – 1 Peter 3:8-9 (The Message)