The True Expression of Compassion
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer…” Romans 12:10-12
“…for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.” Hebrews 10:34
When someone you love is going through a tough time you share their emotions almost instinctively. And the closer the relationship, a friendly neighbor, a best friend, a parent and child, a husband and wife, the more deeply shared is the suffering and the burden. For the one directly experiencing the tough situation it is hard also because they don’t want to unduly burden the one they love either.
So what do you do? Does everyone just put on a “happy” facemask for the sake of the other person and each pretend they are just fine? Or, is there a more Godly alternative, a more practical compassion, that brings each one closer to the true peace of God that passes all understanding?
Yes there is. We are not meant to walk this life alone. We need to let others share it with us. We are best when we do life together. But what are the proper mechanisms for doing that life in a way that pleases God and accomplishes His greater kingdom purpose.
Galatians 6:1-10 offers us the fundamental truth from which we can gain God’s will for all of us.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:2-10
Notice in verse two we are told to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” It is God’s intent for the body to support one another and we do this best when we share in the hard times and the good times, but especially in the times of need. In doing so, we strengthen the whole body. It is good when we share the load and ease the burdens of another and especially those we love, those in the household of faith.
But God never intends for us to bear our burdens and the burdens of others alone. Our shoulders are not broad enough for that. Some of each man’s burden is his own to carry. Notice the contrast of verse 5. “For each one shall bear his own load.” Now some translations use the same word in both of these passages but the Greek text uses two different words. In verse two the word is baros - meaning burden, load, weight. In verse five the word is portion - meaning portion or load (burden), part.
The difference is subtle but significant. One burden can be shared the other load cannot. We can bear each other’s burdens in matters that are physical, material or actionable in some way, matters of sou and heart as well, grief, joy emotional burdens and the like. But each of us must bear our own part in matters of the soul and the spirit and the health of the body where we have the ability to do so. And there are things over which none of us have any direct control. None of us can add one inch to our height, nor can we by worrying change anything that affects our wellbeing. There are things we can do, but worrying is not one of them. It is worthless.
We can exercise due diligence in maintaining our health, but there are times when we need the care of a physician because the body can be attacked by external forces beyond our ability to resist them. But all the time we need the providence of the Lord and in that providence is our healing.
When it comes to our loved ones we can share their burdens up to a point, but try as we might and desire as we might we cannot live their lives for them. We can walk along side and speak words of encouragement, hope, and peace. We can give to their needs and even go the extra mile. But, we cannot and must not deplete our strengths trying to carry more than God has asked us to carry.
We also have to bear our own load and that means if we are gong to be strong enough to help our loved ones we’ve got to take good care of ourselves, staying rooted and grounded in the Word of life so that when we are strong we have life to offer those who are weak. And reciprocally, they can be strong for us when we are weak. Therefore, we must get proper rest and nutrition, physically and spiritually to keep ourselves fit for the task of being strong when our loved ones are
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Finally, we have a summons from Jesus which is for every believer. He is calling us all to rest and to place our full trust and hope in Him, because He will never, no, never, ever disappoint us.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.” Isaiah 26:4
You are blessed to be a blessing. You are blessed because God loves you. You are a blessing because you love others.
“The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” Proverbs 11:25