EMOTE – COMPASSION
Wednesday January 30, 2019 – Devotional
Cassandra Visscher, one of our grade 10 leaders will be preaching the message tonight on compassion. Here are the notes/transcript for her message:
MAIN POINT: Choose compassion.
We are diving into a new series called Emote, where we will be discussing emotions.
We are emotional and spiritual beings. God created us in a way that we are unique, and in a way that we FEEL. And what is most incredible is that we are created in his image. We are reflections of who he is.
In Genesis 1:26-27 we are told, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female, he created them”.
So we were created as these beautiful people, in the likeness of God, who experience emotion each day. We are emotional beings. And we are spiritual beings.
I think that this ability to have and experience emotion is a great gift and has the potential to in turn bless so many others. And one emotion that can change the way that we live, and also those around us, is compassion.
My challenge to you tonight, is to love with emotion. To choose compassion. (if there are only two words that you really hear and hold close to your heart – then let it be this “choose compassion”)
In Deuteronomy 6, Moses gives a charge to Israel. In verses 4-7, he tells them, “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”
Moses reminds us of the truth that God is one, and that our first duty is to love him with all of our heart. Love him with all of your being. Love with emotion.
To choose compassion.
But what is compassion?
Compassion – I am a teacher, and a little bit nerdy. And I love the dictionary. Lame I know. So naturally, I’m going to start with “What is compassion?”
Some define it as:
concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others
the desire to help someone who’s in distress.
a feeling and an act of love
In a book called ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ – compassion is described as a feeling of being exposed and completely loved and accepted all at the same time
Being vulnerable and bold
Putting aside my needs and focusing on others
Giving up what is comfortable for me to help someone else
I asked some of my grade three students what they think compassion means and some of them said…
Helping others who need it
Helping someone who has less than me
Being generous to someone
“Compassion is very very very awesome”
Compassion means brave
Being strong for someone else
Being kind, being brave, and standing up for others
Helping people who have nothing
Compassion is incredible and powerful. And the ultimate example of compassion was Jesus.
He hung out with those who were outcasts, the sick, the diseased, the minorities, the sinners. He saw everyone as worthy of love.
We are going to look to at a few glimpses into the life of Jesus – the example that he is for us, and what he tells his followers.
We will start in Matthew 9
The Need for Workers (NLT)
35 Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.37 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
Then in Mark 6
Jesus Feeds Five Thousand (NLT)
30 The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. 31 Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.
32 So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. 33 But many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them. 34 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
Again, “they were like sheep without a shepherd”
What do shepherds do, they lead and guide.
Jesus saw the people and had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
Jesus refers to the people as sheep.
Now let’s look to Matthew 15
Jesus Heals Many People (NLT)
29 Jesus returned to the Sea of Galilee and climbed a hill and sat down. 30 A vast crowd brought to him people who were lame, blind, crippled, those who couldn’t speak, and many others. They laid them before Jesus, and he healed them all.31 The crowd was amazed! Those who hadn’t been able to speak were talking, the crippled were made well, the lame were walking, and the blind could see again! And they praised the God of Israel.
Jesus Feeds Four Thousand
32 Then Jesus called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way.”
Now Jesus is talking about the people needing to be fed
Then in Mark 8 we hear about Jesus feeding the four thousand again.
Jesus Feeds Four Thousand (NLT)
8 About this time another large crowd had gathered, and the people ran out of food again. Jesus called his disciples and told them, 2 “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will faint along the way. For some of them have come a long distance.”
Jesus has compassion on the people because they are like sheep without a shepherd, and they have nothing left to eat and need to be fed.
Finally we will look at John 21
Epilogue: Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples
Do You Love Me? (MSG)
15 After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.”
17-19 Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.”
Jesus tells Peter that he is to feed his sheep. Our job is to reach out to the lost, the needy, the sheep without a shepherd and feed them.
There are so many other stories of Jesus showing compassion to others – being the ultimate example for us to follow. He tells Peter “follow me”. Jesus demonstrated compassion over and over again. It compelled him to stop what he was doing and serve those in need. Jesus loved the unloveable and the unlovely. He is love.
What is amazing about showing compassion is that it doesn’t need to be crazy huge acts of service. Often some of the smallest gestures or acts can leave the biggest impact.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on compassion, and started to realize times when I wasn’t compassionate. It would have been easy to show compassion to others, but I made the choice not to.
I had the opportunity to go to Ecuador with our youth mission team last July – and it was overwhelming when we worked with the kids each day. We would spend a few hours a day with kids who came from homes no bigger than a shed. Families that had 5 or 6 people living in such tight quarters with very little. It was squished, unclean and all that they knew. There was a huge language barrier between us and the kids, and the little Spanish that we attempted to learn did not get us very far. But my heart just cried out for these kids. And I just wanted them to know that they were loved. To feel it. To experience that emotion. I can only imagine how Jesus felt when he was here on earth and saw these people that were hurting, or in need, and how he had compassion on them. They had nothing left to eat – they were lost – like sheep without a shepherd and he looked out on these people and had compassion on them.
It was overwhelming to experience many of these similar feelings in Ecuador. And finding those opportunities to serve impacted not only the ones being served but the ones serving as well. We went there to serve the families and children in the communities but I left feeling full. Seeing their bright smiles and laughing with us each day taught me how much a smile or a kind gesture towards someone can really make a difference.
We had one day in Ecuador where we were split up into groups of four to visit small villiages. We were put into groups that had two people from Beulah and two students from Ecuador. Athena – who is now in grade 10 – and I were assigned to a very small and secluded village called Tio Yaku. Throughout the majority of our trip, we had a few people who were able to translate for us and make communication with the community and children a bit easier. But on this particular day, Athena and I were assigned with two others who spoke very little English and her and I spoke very little Spanish.
I was honestly quite nervous for this day. And I was unsure about what to expect. We had been told that this particular village was not quite as open to visitors and that we shouldn’t be surprised if we did not get to talk to anyone at all or if we did not have any kids show up to our activities. Slowly, a few kids came to see us. And were terrified of us at first. We were not able to communicate with them other than hand gestures and smiles, but eventually we all played a big game of tag.
On this day, there was one boy in particular who stood out to me. He was young, maybe 4 or 5 years old. Wearing clothes that were much too small for him, and he looked very sick. He had a small swarm of bugs following him wherever he went and he was terrified of us. I remember seeing him for the first time and feeling as though my heart was just crying out. All I wanted was for him to feel loved and safe. I really felt as though I could identify with how Jesus might have felt seeing all the people that needed help. The sick, the outcasts, the hungry, the lost. And Jesus says that he looked out over the crowd and had compassion on them.
All that I wanted, was to be able to connect with these kids and help them in any way that we could. And for this little boy, it was a smile and a game of tag at the time.
Coming home from Ecuador there was a quote by Maya Angelou that stand out to me. She said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Emotions are powerful. And we want to move our emotions from a feeling, to an action. To let them inspire us and motivate us choose compassion. And to live it out.
Further reflecting from that trip I started to compare how I was living my life at home vs. how I was living and serving in Ecuador. I was startling to realize times when I wasn’t compassionate back at home. When it would have been easy to show compassion to others, but I made the choice not to.
A time that really stood out to me was a time when I was in grade 12. I took the city bus to school each morning. I lived way on the North side of Edmonton, and went to school on the West end of Edmonton. Each morning, I would transfer buses downtown – and it was quite early. There were always many people sleeping on the streets or waiting for others to pass by and ask for change. And I would intentionally cross the street to avoid them. One man in particular stood out to me. He approached me and asked if I had any change to spare, and I lied to him. I told him I didn’t when in reality I bought lunch almost every day at school. I made the choice not to be compassionate. I would even find that I would avoid eye contact, or be short or rude to those waiting by the bus. Then later that year, near the end of grade 12, I participated in a poverty simulation. We were given different roles in society – many of us living in poverty – and had to live out a week in the life of someone else. And it was difficult. And eye opening. We had a man who works at a downtown shelter talk to us about his friends who came in to the shelter for support. And what many of them longed for most, was love and connection with others. One homeless man described his experience on the streets as feeling as though he was invisible. And for him, being shown compassion was a conversation, or someone showing him that they cared.
Compassion is more than empathy – or putting yourself in someone else’s shoes – but it’s an act of love. Helping others when they are in need. Feeding the sheep. Jesus calls us to feed his sheep. Those who are needy, or hungry and those who are lost. My challenge for you is to choose compassion. Find small opportunities throughout your day to smile to a stranger, talk to someone at school who might be lonely. These small acts of love (and sincere emotion go such a long way).
This can be difficult, because we are often given messages about emotions (what the world tries to convince us of):
1 = “Follow your heart” – this is a common phrase that I am willing to bet that everyone has heard before.
2 = “Don’t be so emotional”
Here are a few cautions about these two phrases – and what the Bible has to say to us!
Number 1 – “follow your heart” – In Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) it says
9 The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
We are told that the heart is deceitful. We should not be following what our heart is telling us because we can be led astray. We are to love God with our hearts. Feel emotion. And put that into action. Love with our hearts, not follow our hearts. Follow Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life.
Going back to Deuteronomy 6 it says to love God with all our heart, all our soul and all our strength. Our job is to not follow what our heart has to say as it is deceitful, but rather to love God.
Number 2 – “don’t be so emotional”
it’s as if we are being told it is a bad thing to experience emotion. To feel embarrassed when you’re upset, or to hide how you are really feeling. Because being emotional is being vulnerable – and we know how difficult it can be to be vulnerable.
Emotions can protect us, teach us, and connect us.
Connection – being in relationship – community
Choose compassion (cultivate community – create opportunities to show emotion – sincere, real, and strong emotion. To the least of these. Encourage compassion – by doing it! More than just what we say, but also how we act. How we treat others. Compassion is powerful
Again I am reminded of the Maya Angelou quote “people won’t remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel”
We can move from emotion into action and choose to be compassionate.
So how are we going to move from emotion to action? From the heart, to the hands?
There is some encouragement in Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
We can clothe ourselves in God’s love and put on compassion.
Sit with someone lonely
Share your story (ask someone to share theirs)
Find opportunities to serve (at school, in the community, at home, with your family, mission trips!!)
Be aware (notice those around you)
Be courageous – do something that makes you uncomfortable
FEED THE SHEEP (the hungry and the lost)
What does compassion look like?
“Find a hurt and heal it”
“Find a need and fill it”
And we can act compassionately because Jesus was compassionate to us. We can follow that example.
1 John 4:19
“We love because he first loved us”.
To end tonight, I just want to invite those who have never experienced Jesus’s compassion to receive that tonight. To be clothed in compassion. And to those who have experienced this, I invite you to receive it again.
Love the Lord with all your heart, soul and strength
Put on love.
Move from emotion to action