True Compassion

by Maggie Lasher

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” ~ Galatians 6:2 NIV

How do we carry each other’s burdens?  How do we “bear with one another?”

Sympathy is defined as having feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune; whereas Compassion is a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.  We sympathize when someone else is in trouble, but how often are we able or even willing to be truly compassionate – to get involved and attempt to alleviate their suffering?  Compassion comes from a word that literally translates “to suffer with.” This is exactly what true compassion is. It is sympathy in action.

In the Book of Job, the best thing his friends did for him happened early on:

“When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.” ~ Job 2:12-13 NLT

When Job’s friends heard about Job’s misfortune and planned to come to him together.  When they got to Job they sat down in the ashes with him and silently wept with him for seven days. Job’s friends couldn’t change his situation and they couldn’t take away his sorrow but they could sit and silently hurt with him for awhile.

“GENUINE COMPASSION does not consist of ‘just doing it,’ faking it, or forcing yourself to act the way you have been told you are supposed to act. It does not mean loving your enemy despite what you feel. Instead, true compassion means your actions and interior experiences mirror one another and flow from one another.”—Andrew Dreitcer, Living Compassion: Loving Like Jesus

But how do we learn to have true compassion?  How do we align our secret inner feelings and our outward actions so that we can truly love on and suffer with another?  By spending more time with the One who is Compassion personified.

Let us pray.

“Teach me more about you, how you work and how you move,
so that I can walk onward in your truth
until everything within me brings honor to your name.”
~ Psalm 86:11 The Passion Translation

 

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