If you are going to feel correctly about others, you have to think correctly about yourself.
Unfortunately, it is often very difficult to think correctly about yourself when you are trying to help someone else. When someone has a problem you may be tempted to use what’s happening to her as an excuse for feeling better about yourself.
We are so intent on exalting ourselves over others that we will even use their sin to do so.
How sad! Unfortunately, this becomes especially tempting when other people are struggling with different sins than you do. When whatever is tempting them isn’t a temptation for you, you can easily start thinking of yourself as being a little better than they are. And if you are thinking like that, you are setting yourself up for a big fall because, though you may be a different kind of sinner than they are, you are still a sinner like they are.
There is a direct relationship between humility and compassion
This passion for self-exaltation is part of what makes genuine compassion such a rare thing. There is a direct relationship between humility and compassion, and between pride and a lack of it. Thoughts and feelings of self-importance based on self-ignorance are a major hindrance to compassionate relationships. So mark it down. Apart from Christ, we are nothing spiritually.
Spiritual life is as much of a gift as Physical life!
Imagine standing in a cemetery surrounded by hundreds of gravestones and shouting, “Look at me, I am so much better than you, I am alive!” No, physical life is a gift. So is spiritual life. Instead of being proud when you are around unbelievers, you should be overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s grace. And really, the same is true when you are with those who know Christ. If you have moved ahead spiritually or know more than they do, it is only because of help you have received from Christ. Every spiritual gift is a result of grace. How can anyone become proud of himself for that (1 Cor. 4:7)? If you have more gifts than someone else it is only because you have been shown more mercy (Rom. 12:3), which means that you, of everyone, have the most reason to be humble because you have received more grace.
If you are going to feel compassion for others, you need to show no compassion toward pride.
When someone comes to you with a problem, you can assume pride is going to come as well. Pride often uses occasions to show compassion as opportunities to promote itself instead. Suppose there is a needy person who is asking for your help. (Or maybe she is not asking for your help, but you think, really, she should.) If God in His grace has given you the wisdom you need to help such a troubled person, give thanks to Him and use your gifts to serve her. But watch out that you don’t start taking yourself too seriously. If you have the answer someone else needs, it is very tempting to start believing you are the answer that is needed. This is very dangerous because, once you start thinking of yourself as the Messiah, you stop acting very much like Him.
How to fight pride
One way you can begin to fight this war on pride is by seeing other people’s problems as your opportunities. Their problems are opportunities for you to do something even more important than give them the answer they need. Their problems are opportunities for you to pursue the humility you need. Before you begin to look for a solution to somebody else’s problem, slow down and make sure you intentionally deal with your most significant problem, and that is pride. Commit yourself to doing something bigger than just saying the right thing. Commit yourself to feeling the right way for that person.
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 author of Compassion: Seeing with Jesus’ Eyes.
About the Book:
Compassion is the emotion most frequently attributed to Jesus in the Gospels. But compassion is more than an emotion—it is a God-centered, God-inspired way of looking at the world.
“One of my very favorite books.” – Heath Lambert, Executive Director, The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors