Models on the runway have an important job. Clothing designers have entrusted their latest fashions to a person who will introduce them to the world with the staging and production otherwise accorded a Hollywood celebrity, rock star or head of state. These new designs are shown in their absolute best light, giving them every opportunity to become the new must-have-in-my-wardrobe look.
Likewise, children of God are offered an important role. The Creator of all has robed them in His love and offers it free of charge, most often without the fanfare. Whether this is seen in its best light depends on how each person carries himself or herself in that God-given fashion statement.
Is compassion in fashion?
Judging by modern media in general and news coverage in particular, one might surmise that compassion is, if anything, old-fashioned and out of style. Politicians take the stage one by one to criticize their opponents, playing the sound bite game to curry favor with the electorate. Situation comedies make it seem in vogue for children to disrespect their parents. Pundits argue their points with anyone offering a different perspective, saving their best verbal punches for their audiences’ viewing, listening or reading pleasure.
Where and how does compassion play a role in modern society? Stories of compassion usually come under the heading of human interest stories and are often lost in the back pages of print media. When they’re included in television or radio coverage, one will most likely find them at or near the end of the newscast. The citizen who commits his or her life to providing compassionate help to those in need is relegated to the bottom of the list of online searches, sending their clear message of what is important to know for living life today.
That’s how the media has come to treat compassion. Compare that with where it lands on the divine search engine also known as God’s Word. Based on that, what exactly do we know about compassion in the eyes of our loving Lord?
Compassion is always in fashion with God – The Bible is replete with stories of loving kindness and sacrificial generosity. Jesus takes note of the poor widow giving two small coins, all she had to live on, and lifts her up to the Apostles as having given more than all the rich had given before her.
Compassion is the very nature of God – Cited throughout the Old Testament, God is repeatedly described as compassionate, as early as Exodus 34:6: “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth.” You can also find this description several places in Psalms and in Nehemiah 9:17b: “But You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness.”
Compassion is best when it comes without expectation of repayment-Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan, the only one of three travelers who shows compassion on the man stripped and beaten and left halfdead. Our Lord ends the story by telling all who will listen, “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:37b)
Doing the same
How do we, in today’s world, obey the clear and plain words of Jesus to do as the Good Samaritan does and show God’s compassion to others? Here are a few ways:
Give your time to a local charitable organization – Serving meals at an outreach center or shelter for the homeless, delivering meals to those unable to prepare their own and volunteering to tutor young students after school are examples of selfless giving that shows God’s compassion on His children.
Do a household chore for a neighbor – Mowing a lawn, clearing a walk or driveway or tending a flower garden without accepting payment are reflections of God’s love and compassion in action.
Give anonymously to a particular cause – In addition to donating our time and energy, we can give part of our tithe to a children’s charity, an evangelical organization or through a third party to an individual in need. An example of this can be members of a group collecting money to be used for the benefit of another member. When the donor remains unidentified to the recipient, there’s little chance of worldly repayment. Such an anonymous donation that doesn’t qualify as tax-deductible in today’s culture might just be the highest form of giving without expecting an earthly reward.
Doing what is counter-cultural to share God’s compassion with others will always be in fashion in the eyes of God. Try one or more of these and feel His love flow through you and into the world.
John Earl Carroll is a strategist, growth expert, award-winning columnist and president of Unlimited Performance, Inc,, in Mount Pleasant, SC. Find him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/johnearlcarroll