God’s Shield and a Heart of Compassion

Psalm 86:15
“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

One of the things I see missing in society and many homes today is compassion. What surprised me in my study of love was how often love and compassion are linked as they are in Psalm 86 above.  In fact, in 1 John 4:8 it states that God is love. Also, the word compassion appears over 80 times in the Bible. 

From my studies, I am convinced that if we understand love we will experience Romans 5:5 which tells us that the Spirit pours love into our hearts so we will be filled with compassion.  When we look at Jesus’ example, we see He had unending compassion for the crowds filled with people who were falling far short of the standard of the Old Testament.  

“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matt. 9:36

“When He went ashore, He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matt. 14:14

Compassion is defined as: 
noun: compassion; plural noun: compassions
       1. sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. 

When I came to this conclusion a number of years ago, I was stunned at how little compassion I had. I saw myself as a loving father but I found that I had little compassion when they failed. My lack of sympathy and concern for their mistakes became an issue in our relationship and decreased their desire to listen and follow me. 

Most adults I know hate failing and so do our kids.  I have found in talking to kids that when they feel a lack of compassion for their situation, over time they end up feeling unloved by parents who I know deeply love them.  The lack of security in the relationship, especially during adolescence, can be a powerful motivator in the wrong direction.  If your home lacks compassion, recent research shows that compassion can be learned. 

In one study they found:

“In the meditation, participants envisioned a time when someone has suffered and then practiced wishing that his or her suffering was relieved. They repeated phrases to help them focus on compassion such as, “May you be free from suffering. May you have joy and ease.”
Participants practiced with different categories of people, first starting with a loved one, someone whom they easily felt compassion for, like a friend or family member. Then, they practiced compassion for themselves and, then, a stranger. Finally, they practiced compassion for someone they actively had conflict with called the “difficult person,” such as a troublesome coworker or roommate.”

Switch the word from meditation to prayer and add the power of the Spirit to circumcise our hearts from past wounds that prevent us from being loving and compassionate when we are bumped. There is no doubt that we can become more compassionate.  When I developed compassion for my kids’ struggles, issues and sin, it was amazing how much deeper and better our conversations and their learning went.  We can help our kids to be more compassionate by engaging them in praying in compassionate ways for others they know who are struggling or difficult. It’s a safe bet that until we start exhibiting compassion for them, they will not want to join us in prayer for others.

So let’s take some time this week to pray for and have sympathy and compassion for people in our lives and especially our kids.


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