Some people think of compassion as a personality trait.
“Look, I am kind of a tough guy, so don’t expect me to be compassionate.”
I don’t buy it.
I could prove the importance of compassion in a number of different ways but for the sake of time, let’s just say this. As believers, we are all commanded to put it on. Ephesians 4:32. Put on compassion. In other words, not being compassionate is sin. A heart that does not break over the pain of others is a heart that is broken. Bottom line. As my sister always used to say to me when she wanted to shut me up, end of sentence.
The fact though that Paul tells us to put it on means it may take some effort to become more biblically compassionate towards the pain and hurts of others.
Here are seven specific steps you can take to become a more tender hearted person.
- Fight against selfish ambition. The more selfishly ambitious you are the less compassionate will be. Just check out the disciples in the gospels.
- Put off a self-righteous spirit. In Luke 18, Jesus talked about those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and treated others with contempt. The two go together.
- Love your neighbor as yourself. In other words, take the way you show compassion to yourself and use it as a model for the way you should show compassion to others. A simple way to begin is to slow down and actually try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and view life from their eyes.
- Spend time meditating on the law of God and not just on your own little rules. We like our own little rules because we can keep them and when we can keep them and others can’t, we feel like we are better than they are and have a hard time showing compassion. A good long study of the actual law of God won’t let us do that. It will break us and show us how desperately needy we are for the compassion of God ourselves.
- Set God apart in your heart. One of the reasons we don’t show compassion to others is because we have ourselves at the center of our world. But we are really not the center of the world. God is. And He is up to something much bigger than simply exalting us. He is interested in more than just us. That other person, yeah, the one you don’t even notice, He is actually interested in them. He created them after all. They are made in His image, and you can’t start thinking you are so important that you don’t at least respect that.
- Believe in God. Fear often keeps us from showing compassion. But what if there was a God who was in control and was actively seeking our good and was able to administer justice perfectly at the end of time, how would you act then? Well, that’s exactly the way the universe is. There is a God who in control and all that, so believe it and prove it, by acting towards others not on the basis of fear but faith.
- Pray that God Himself will break you. It is a lot more difficult to be haughty towards others when God Himself has brought you to your knees.
About the Author:
Joshua Mack (MA in biblical counseling, The Master’s College; MDiv, The Master’s Seminary; DMin, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is pastor-teacher of Living Hope Church in Pretoria, South Africa, and executive director of 1Hope Ministries International. He and his wife Marda have five daughters as well as two boys and one girl in permanent foster care. He is the co-author of Courage and God’s Solution to Life’s Problems.
About the Book:
“One of my very favorite books.” – Heath Lambert, Executive Director, The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors