First to Go

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“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12 NRS).


It is hard to think of God’s chosen ones, being holy and beloved, being anything less than compassionate, but I have sadly discovered that compassion is often one of the first things to go out the window.


(Image courtesy of flickr.com)

How quickly we forget what it was like to be lost and alone!  To drown in the thick, viscousness of our own sin!  Suddenly, we find ourselves as Children of the Light (John 12:36) and unable to remember when we needed compassion.  Compassion is that deep inward sympathy that doesn’t just cause sorrow; it demands action to alleviate the suffering.  It seems to be incongruent to put on Christ and throw out compassion, so why do we do just that?  I wonder if we develop a revulsion to that which we once suffered so vividly.  If I was once slave to my sin and without hope, am I afraid to be near those in that state now because it is too painful to remember?  Do I fear backsliding, my personal rerun of that state of misery?  Even if I never was so poor that I had to go to a soup kitchen to eat, does that preclude me from looking at those in line as anything other than “a meal served in mission?”  What about that homeless man on the street begging for spare change?  Is he anything other than a potential threat to my personal safety?

As Christians, losing our compassion is the first step to that detrimental state of hypocrisy.  We only exist as Christians because God had compassion upon us.  God, knowing that our sins would overtake us, came to us in Jesus Christ so that we could have salvation.  I can’t think of a more perfect example of compassion than Christ.  Compassion is not a luxury for us.  It is a necessity.  It is part of the spiritual garments with which we are adorned.  Like clothing emblazoned with designer logos, Christians should wear compassion.  It should be part of our everyday ensemble.  If I can’t have compassion for others, then perhaps I should throw Christ out of the window, too.  It would make me less of a hypocrite.

Prayer:
Lord and Savior,
We claim your name,
Then shun your people.
You claimed us, all those who sin.
Those who are sick and in needs of grace,
Were granted reprieve from eternal punishment,
Because of your compassion for us.
Do not let us withhold our compassion from others!
Forgive us when we have turned our back on those in need.
Grant us your grace when we have failed to show mercy and love.
You have shown us another way of being;
A way in which we want to exist.
Drive out our selfishness and our callousness.
Replace it with compassion and kindness.
It is not just our image we tarnish, but yours,
When we refuse to have compassion for others.
Open our eyes and our hearts to those who need us.
Remind us that we once understood how badly we needed you.
Thanks be to you for your great compassion and sacrifice.
Amen.

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