Compassion

One of my dearest memories from childhood goes like this…

My family was taking care of our good friends’ two children. Their oldest son was practically my best friend at the time. We did everything together.

I was about five-years-old then and I refused to take naps when the others did. So, while my friends and sister got to stay up “late” and have a snack, I was confined to my pajamas and lights out in the bedroom.

I was sad and moping to be sure when my friend crept into the room. He was four-years-old — a year younger than I. He knew I’d wanted some of the snack.

“Here, Liz,” he said, reaching out his little hand. “I brought you some.”

My friend didn’t have to bring me a treat, but  he did. He showed grace for my bad behaviour and risked getting into trouble for me. He was generous and giving of himself. I call it compassion, when I look back on that memory now.

However, compassion can oft be hard to give. Whether it’s an irate customer or a hard-to-work-with-co-worker, a younger sibling or an distanced friend, I deal with a definite choice everyday. Will I roll my eyes or shall I show compassion today?

Because compassion is hard. It isn’t just about “being nice” or making friends. It is much, much more.

It is patient. And gentle.

Compassion is generous, not withheld love.

It is not proud nor does it envy.

Compassion is full of grace. It is about giving second chances and forgiving and remembering the blood of Christ. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs or repay evil for evil.

At its fullest, compassion is unconditional. Agape love. We call God compassionate and so He is. This is the model we live up to.

 

I wonder if my friend still remembers that time when he brought me a treat — probably not. But I sure do. And that compassionate gift made a profound affect on my little soul. Because even today, a five-year-old’s compassion inspires me.

So let us live lives of love. Let’s fill our hearts with compassion for the world. For everyone.

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You Can’t Buy Grace

The other day, my acting prof broke into this mini-sermon on grace. He was talking about our scenes which are due next week and how to give and receive proper criticsm. But it was much more than that for me.

Cross & Clouds

Cross & Clouds (Photo credit: John H Wright Photo)

He talked about grace and how it is free to us through the blood of Jesus. And how we should live our lives with grace, as Jesus did. But how we so often don’t. And even though grace is free, we always forget about it. Because we’re steeped in the law instead of overwhelmed with grace. We don’t take the gift that is offered so generously by Jesus.

On Friday, I left chapel early. Some things that were said in my previous class, Spanish grammar that I’m just not getting, and guilt were flowing around in my mind. I couldn’t sing anymore. When I walked out into the fresh air, alone at last, it was the guilt which haunted me the most. I could brush off every other worry, but it was my guilt that I could not handle.

“God, I made a mistake,” I whispered as I walked along. I’m probably known for “talking to myself” around campus anyway, being a Theatre major with lines to memorize. “I wish I hadn’t made it, but now I have. How do I fix it?”

But I didn’t hear anything at all. No answers. No comfort.

My mistake wasn’t “big” in the eyes of others. It was simply a thought I had that I knew I shouldn’t have had. Perhaps I sound extreme, but at that moment the guilt from it was enough to ruin my morning.

“How are you?” my friend asked after joining me in the cafeteria, a few minutes later.

“I’m okay. How are you?”

Of course, I shouldn’t have said that. I ended up telling him that I felt guilty about something. A thought I’d had.

Or maybe I should have said that, because then he reiterated what our Acting prof had said the other day. There is grace. Always grace. You’re nothing without it, but never unworthy with it. You can’t buy it, but you just have to take it. Because God loves me and God loves you so very, very much.

I chose to take grace that day. And as we left the cafeteria later on, bound for our next class, I felt a weight lifted off of me. It was an indescribable feeling, but a feeling it was. The heavyness went away and I felt light. The exhaustion which had not allowed me to sing previously disappeared as a new energy revived me. I saw the sun outside and the flowers in the gardens and the smiles on the faces of other students. I saw my next three hour class as a time to smile and be with my friends and the homework I have as “something to get through.” But most of all, I saw grace for all of my transgressions.

Holier Than Jesus?

Some people try so hard to please God that they want to be even more perfect than He is. Usually, I point fingers at those “some people” as others. Today, I point the finger right back to me.

Last night’s sermon was convicting in more than one way. You know those questions that a pastor will often ask? Well, I was nodding my head at quite a few of them…

I have a confession. I’m a hypocrite. A pharisee. I am self-righteous beyond belief.

You’d never know it by looking at me or just knowing me or even reading what I write. But isn’t that exactly what a hypocrite is? Someone who says one thing and does another.

And that is exactly who I am, sadly. I profess to be great at forgiveness because of what God has taught me, yet I’ve been finding unhealed wounds that I’ve bitterly left for years. My general motto is that God loves everyone, but recently I learned that I’m sometimes apt to think He loves me more than some. I write these posts about modesty being a non-issue and how there is grace in God. But whenever I see a girl in really trashy clothes, I look down on her and pride myself in my “more than modest apparel.” So much for being forgiving, loving, and modest, right?

Truly, Jesus was all of those traits that I’m not. He forgave the whole world. He loves the whole world. And he never once bragged about either of those amazing attitudes.

And as my pastor reminded me last night, Jesus ate with those very people we look down on. Maybe I don’t know any tax collectors or prostitutes, but I know lots of sinners. I know people who have fallen from Grace. And somehow I think I’m holy enough because I’ve been a Christian for longer, I wear crew neck shirts, and I go to church twice a week. But when I do it that way, I’m just trying to be holier than Jesus, an impossible feat.

Because Jesus didn’t come to condemn, but to save. He didn’t come to love some, but to love everyone. He didn’t come for the righteous, but for the unrighteous. And if I really want to have the attitude of Jesus, I need to lose my hypocrisy and really, truly live like He did. Prostitutes and tax collectors at dinner and all.