Embrace 1 – Lesson 5

EXTENDING COMPASSION
AND CARE

Introduction
The journey of life takes us through diverse times and seasons.
We all go through moments of hurt and pain.
This pain or hurt can be physical, spiritual, emotional or a combination of all of them.

These could be as a result of illness, strained relationships such as divorce/ separation, and other unavoidable circumstances like death of a loved one.

When going through such times, we need help that is driven by genuine feelings, care and serious attention.
We need someone who cares, or one who can encourage and offer hope to enable us continue with a normal life

Why do we need Compassion and Care?
Perhaps the instant thought that comes to our minds when we hear the words ‘Compassion’ and ‘Care’ is about the under privileged people around us.
i. Sometimes God allows even the righteous to suffer.

It is interesting that God would allow the Devil to cause trouble to his servants like Job.
Job 1:7-12

The torment upon Job was so painful that even those who initially attempted to comfort him literally ran out of words!

Job 2: 13
“…they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”

Note:
Sometimes when expressing compassion and care, words may be unnecessary.
Just provide the ministry of “presence”.
ii. Trouble is among the seasons and times ordained in life.

Certain things are bound to happen to us, whether we are righteous or not. Hence, we
just have to prepare for them when the season comes.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 4
“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven…A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance…. ” (KJV
iii. Trouble and pain are inevitable in the world.

Whereas the Lord Jesus Christ assured his disciples of victory, he did make it clear that they would encounter troubles…

John 16:32-33
“But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Implication
Since we are still in this world, we all need compassion and care at some point.
Each one of us needs to be equipped to care since there are many people around us that
need care and compassion.
2. To What extent was Christ’s Earthly Ministry Driven by Compassion?

One of the uniqueness of the Christian faith is the fact that Christianity is based on a relationship between God and his people.

The expression of love brings forth, among many others, the virtue of compassion and care, which Christ perfectly exemplified throughout his
earthly ministry.
i. Jesus showed Compassion for the lost.

When he saw the lost, Jesus did not condemn them but sympathized with them.

Matthew 9:35-36
“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

ii. Jesus Comforted the bereaved and the discouraged.

His diary was always full, but Jesus found it necessary to visit and comfort those who were hurting.
Jesus comforted Mary and Martha when they were bereaved and gave them hope..

John 11:17-23
“On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21 “Lord,“ Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Jesus did also comfort His disciples when they seemed to be troubled about his imminent departure

John 14:1-3
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.’’
iii. Jesus healed the sick.

Jesus did heal many people in his public ministry. One thread that runs through most of the healing miracles was the fact that he had compassion for them.

His miracles were not a ‘show of power’ but a ‘show of love’.
Matthew 14: 14
“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

Implication
God grants us gifts of healing for the sole reason that those who are suffering may experience his compassion.
It is not for us to show off how endowed we are. We should avoid dramatizing and ‘showing off’ God’s healing power.

iv. Jesus fed the hungry and desolate.

Though the crowd may have followed him in search of spiritual food and healing, Jesus was equally concerned about their need for physical food.

Mark 8:1-3
“During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance. ”
3. How was Compassion and Care the Hallmark of the Early Church?

Apart from signs and wonders engineered by the Holy Spirit, one other mark that made the early church prominent was the way the believers cared for one another.

i. The believers lived a life of compassion and care.

People who had needs were fully attended to through the liberal giving in the church.
Acts 4: 32-35

Acts 4: 32-35
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”

ii. The virtue of compassion was expected of all believers.
Care for others was a mark of true faith.

a) The Colossian believers were urged to put on a garment of compassion.

Colossians 3:12-13
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord
forgave you.”

b) The Ephesians were reminded that they were created to do good works.

Ephesians 2:10
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ”

c) The rich were commanded to share and act generously.

1 Timothy 6:17-18
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

d) God is introduced as the Father of compassion.

What a great joy to know that our God is full of compassion and that we can learn from him.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

CLASS DISCUSSION
Share a real difficult situation you went through, where you have been a recipient of God’s compassion and comfort. How did you receive the comfort?
How has this helped you to comfort others?
4. What Opportunities do we have to extend Compassion and Care?
God, in his own wisdom, fills our daily pathway with opportunities to extend compassion.

i. God’s command to love embraces compassion and care.

The care envisioned in sharing God’s love entails bearing the burdens of others which leads to relief.

ii. We are comforted by God so we may in turn comfort others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

Implication
Nothing happens to us by chance. God knows all the challenges you may be going through. He upholds us through every situation. Some of the lessons you learn through
tough times are not meant for you alone, but also for others who might go through the same distress later.

iii. We have an obligation to restore fellow believers who have gone astray.

Galatians 6:1
“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted”.
This can only happen if we are driven by Compassion.

iv. Stand with people in their respective circumstances.

.Romans 12:15
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

People around you will always be in situations that may need your company, encouragement or support. Be available

v. Provide care for the sick and the vulnerable.

The aliens/strangers, prisoners, the aged, orphans, widows and any other people who may be disadvantaged in one way or another need our help.

Matthew 25:34-36
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

It is fascinating to note that the Lord Jesus Christ would point to very simple daily issues of life as a yardstick of those who will enter into His kingdom.

Implication
Every act of compassion touches the heart of God. We are the hands that he uses to touch his children.
He is relying on you to reach out to that homeless neighbor or orphan who may have just dropped out of school due to lack of school fees.

5. How Can we Practice Compassion and Care?
As we commit to the practice of compassion and care, it is
necessary to understand and embrace the right roadmap.

i. Discern / Identify the need and show concern.

 

1 John 3: 17
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”

ii. Decide to respond genuinely to the need.

James 2:15-17
“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?… faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

iii. Demonstrate the care by taking action.
No amount of concern can take away hunger pangs; only a piece of bread can do that.

1 John 3: 18
“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

Note:
“Nobody cares how much you know…until they know how much you care”
(Theodore Roosevelt).

iv. Consider partnering with others where necessary.

Sometimes the burden might be overwhelming. Check around to see if you can involve someone else or jointly work with them to alleviate the need.
Hebrews 10: 24
“And let us consider how to we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

John 6:7-11
“Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish”.

Philip saw impossibility; Andrew saw a possibility, while Jesus maximally actualized the possibility. We often tend to give up even before giving it a try.

v. Adopt a lifestyle of compassion and caring.

God’s design is to have us live a caring and compassionate life. When compassion becomes part of daily living it shall become natural for us to extend care.

vi. Point the person to Christ, who is the all sufficient one.

Irrespective of how capable we are or how much we give, we must never allow the recipients of our care to lose their focus on the Lord.

Jeremiah 17: 5-7
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD…But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.”

6. What Tips are useful in the Exercise of Compassion and Care?

Respond promptly to a cry for help.

Initial contact should be made within the shortest time possible, especially in situations of loss and bereavement.

ii. Attend to the needs of your own family members first.
As they say ‘charity begins at home’.

.1 Timothy 5:8
“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”

iii. Focus on ministering to the needs, not your own agenda.

Philippians 2:3-4
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit…Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

iv. Utilize the power of a well-timed word.
If or when you must speak, be careful what you say.

Proverbs 15:4
“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit”.

v. Be gentle and avoid being judgmental.

This is especially likely when restoring the fallen. Remember, Christ did not condemn the woman caught in sin
(John 8:1-11).

vi. Beware of the emotional entanglements

This includes the gender danger that is eminent in the process of caring with or for members of the opposite gender.

vii. Do not practice favoritism.

James 2:1-4
“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Conclusion
Every person needs compassion and care at some point in their life. As disciples of Christ, we should reflect His heart by identifying the needs of those around us and responding to them in word and in deed. Godly love produces compassion and care.