Editor’s Note: It’s another Sit & Listen Saturday at Devotionals Daily! Enjoy reading as well as listening to this devotion below from Craig Groeschel’s new book, Liking Jesus. It’s about rediscovering God in a world filled with selfies, likes, and re-tweets. Today’s devotion focuses on compassion – something that often gets lost as we navigate through our social media driven lives. We pray these words inspire you to show some compassion today! And don’t forget to check out Craig’s new video Bible study to help you apply his teachings from the book to your own life.
The Cost of Compassion
Compassion not only requires action, but it also pays a price and sacrifices something. In Luke 10, Jesus tells a compelling story about a man from Samaria who went out of his way to help a Jewish man. In their culture at that time, these two men would most likely have hated each other. But when the Samaritan found the Jewish man beaten up by the side of the road, he put bandages on him, took him to a hotel, and paid two days’ worth of his wages to the hotel owner to let the man stay there and to take care of him.
Who would do something like that? Who would spend two days’ worth of their own money to take care of a total stranger? Compassion costs, but too often in our culture, we want drive-by compassion. We’re willing to do something as long as it’s easy for us. As long as it’s not too inconvenient.
“I’ll click. I’ll retweet. I’ll Like this. I’ll favorite it. I’ll share a link.” But all of those things are easy. True compassion costs us something.
A few months ago, Amy and I were at a grocery store, and we saw a man and two women, who looked to me like they’d had a hard life, getting some groceries together. I’m not a very touchy-feely kind of person, but when I saw them, I felt moved with compassion deep down inside of me that’s hard to explain. I thought to myself, “I feel like we should pay for their groceries.”
This is not a normal thing for me. I almost immediately started trying to talk myself out of what I was feeling, arguing with myself about doing something good. “You don’t need to pay for their groceries! That’s weird! Besides, what if they’re insulted?”
I hate to admit it, but I even started testing God. “Okay, God,” I prayed. “If they come down the next aisle at the same time I do, I’ll buy their groceries.” They did. So I prayed, “Well, just to be sure, God, if when we’re in the next aisle, they pick up a box of cereal, then I’ll buy their groceries.” And they did. So I pushed through the awkwardness, and I approached them. “I’m sorry. I know this is probably weird, and I really don’t want to offend you. But would you let my wife and me pay for your groceries?” One of the women looked really startled, and I could see a flash of recognition in her face. She said, “Oh my gosh! Before I went to prison, I used to go to your church.” She went on to tell us that she had just been released from prison earlier that day and that she didn’t have a place to stay. In a way, I felt relieved. I thought, “This is perfect. This must be why God prompted me to do this.” Two years ago, Amy started a home for women coming out of abusive situations! Here I thought we were supposed to buy this woman groceries, but now I think God actually wants us to help her out with a place to stay. “That must be it! Everything’s already all set up, so this will be so easy. What a great story!” I wish I could tell you that’s how this situation played out. But it didn’t.
To protect all of the women at the house, we have rules and specific criteria that each woman has to meet to stay there. Because of this woman’s situation, unfortunately, she wasn’t eligible. But we weren’t willing just to pay for her groceries and then just be done with it. So we referred her to another organization to make sure her immediate needs were met.
What I thought would be a simple, “Oh, here’s some money,” or, “Of course we have a place where you can stay!” quickly turned into several weeks of working really hard for this woman on a lot of fronts. Things got really complicated really quickly.
Compassion costs us something.
As I’m writing this, we don’t have a happy ending for her (yet), some clean and tidy resolution. Her story is still unfolding. Clicking is clean. Compassion is messy. It’s not always easy and straightforward. Sometimes you think God is leading you one way, but then you discover he is actually doing something else. His way is a lot more interesting. It takes us outside of ourselves, and we learn so much more.
If you’re moved to compassion, true compassion, I won’t lie to you and tell you it’ll be easy and clean. Most likely, it won’t be.
You’ll offer to mentor a child from a hard place, and as you get to know them, you’ll start to see how complicated their story is. You might begin serving the youth at your church and realize you have a lot to offer a fifteen-year-old kid — and then find out they’re cutting. Things get complicated. Maybe your family will decide to become a foster family. You’ll bring a child into your home, fall in love with them, and pour into their life. And they’ll get to go home, but you’ll have strong suspicions that it’s not going to be a stable, healthy situation for them. As your heart breaks, you may wonder if taking care of them even mattered.
When you get outside of yourself, God changes lives.
But sometimes He does what you least expect — the life He changes the most is yours. We don’t have time to take endless selfies and obsess about the wording of our latest brilliant caption when we’re caring for someone else. We shouldn’t care less than many people used to.
As followers of Jesus, we should care more.
Why? Because true compassion demands action. To say you care but not act is not to care at all. Seeing others in need should move us from deep within. And when we feel that compassion, in the name of Jesus we should act.
Excerpted with permission from Liking Jesus by Craig Groeschel, copyright Craig Groeschel.
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Today, let’s ask Jesus to open our eyes to those around us who need our compassion… Compassion in action. Maybe it’s a neighbor. Maybe someone with a very messy story who has just started going to church. Maybe a single mom you know could use a babysitter for a few hours to herself. How can we show the compassion of Jesus today? Come share with us on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily
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