I’ve reached the mid-point of the week, which is one of my long workdays, so I’m writing page 46 as I wait for the building to clear out so I can get the cleaning done in preparation for tomorrow. After taking care of the early morning cleaning and retrieving a table that I had received a note about saying the legs had broken off, I spent time doing some of the prep work for the next set of daily devotions to continue the “Devotions For Those Who Serve” series I began last summer. The topic I spent time mapping out and working on today was about serving with compassion. There are many things that can change our serving for the better, but perhaps none so dramatically as developing genuine compassion for those we serve. Most of us are pretty good at doing whatever we can to alleviate pain and suffering when we’re the one experiencing it. When we begin to serve with compassion, we do so through a perspective that feels the pain and suffering of those we are serving. Because we identify with their circumstances, they are no longer a statistic or project that we do simply because we ought to — instead we serve in a way that we would desire to receive because we identify with their difficulty.
There is no greater example of serving with compassion than that of Jesus. He took on the frailty of human form to live as one of us and consistently showed compassion as He served. Godly compassion, however, is not a free pass to excuse or accommodate wrong behavior. While Jesus would extend compassion in offering forgiveness of sin, it was never offered in a manner that gave permission to continue in sin — not for those He served while He was on earth and not for us either. To be like the compassion of Jesus, we must find ways to express our compassion for others so that they feel accepted and forgiven, yet also convicted to change any sinful ways.
By mid-afternoon, it was time for a break so I headed to lunch and then down to Potato Creek. It was a cold afternoon and the wind blowing across the lake made it feel even colder. Even the eagles were staying out of sight today so after a short hike I laid down on a fallen tree and rested a bit. Today’s photo was taken from that resting spot as I looked up through the treetops and observed a small patch of blue sky in the midst of an otherwise cloudy afternoon. As I was stretched out on that cold, hard log gazing heavenward, the words from the Ray Boltz song, “Thank You”, drifted through my mind — “I dreamed I went to heaven, and you were there with me. . . . ” The moment took me back to my early childhood when I would have occasion every once in a while to stretch out on the lawn and gaze heavenward, imagining the day I would be “caught up in the clouds” with my Lord.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- I suppose it is somehow appropriate that I get a maintenance request about legs being broken off of a table on the same day that I spend time with God working on devotions about serving with compassion.
- It is often easy to be judgmental when we don’t consider an actual person, or our self, when we speak out about sin.
- Godly compassion will drive us to not only care for the immediate needs of people, but to also care about the eternal suffering they would experience outside of Christ.
- Compassion is what makes “love the sinner but not the sin” possible and believable. Without compassion, the “sinner” feels no love from us no matter what we say.
- Learning to have compassion for others begins by learning to accept the compassion God has for us.
- I thought today about how difficult life is when you are not understood . . . compassion not only says I understand, but says, “I get it.”
- Some of my earliest memories are of a longing for heaven and of imagining walking on the clouds.
- Who will be in heaven with me because I’ve shared Jesus with them? There is only one way.