III. Christians are to be Characterized by Compassion
A. The Application of Compassion
1. We are to be Helpful to the Saints
a. The word “Distributing” is very interesting. It means to have fellowship, communion, to become a partner with someone
b. Another words, we come into a partnership with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
1. We share in their needs and respond to them as thought they were our own.
2. People are hurting, and struggling, they’re afflicted, and secluded, and they’re isolated.
3. You know why people are so isolated and secluded? Because they are!
4. They need somebody to come along side them and help them through where they are.
c. We’re not just to look on people with a sympathetic look. We’re to respond to their circumstance as thought it was ours and get involved in their life. Their problems have become your problems, their pain is your pain.
d. When we see someone broken, we should be broken with them. When we see someone suffering, we should be there to support them. When we see someone discouraged and lonely, we be there to embrace them. When we see someone that has fallen, we should be there to lift them up, not condemn them.
Gal.6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Heb.13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.(Peter in Prison Acts 12:3-4
Illustration: A man put up a sign in his yard that read: "Puppies for Sale." Among those who came to inquire was a young boy. "Please, Mister," he said, "I'd like to buy one of your puppies if they don't cost too much." "Well, son, they're $25." The boy looked crushed. "I've only got two dollars and five cents. Could I see them anyway?" "Of course. Maybe we can work something out," said the man. The lad's eyes danced at the sight of those five little balls of fur. "I heard that one has a bad leg," he said. "Yes, I'm afraid she'll be crippled for life." "Well, that's the puppy I want. Could I pay for her a little at a time?" The man responded, "But she'll always have a limp." Smiling bravely, the boy pulled up one pant leg, revealing a brace. "I don't walk good either." Then, looking at the puppy sympathetically, he continued, "I guess she'll need a lot of love and help. I sure did. It's not so easy being crippled." "Here, take her," said the man. "I know you'll give her a good home. And just forget the money."
Application: How do you respond to the difficulties of others? Do you say, ‘I really hate to hear that’ and go on your way? Or does it break your heart? The Bible teaches that Jesus wasn’t just compassionate, He was moved with compassion. Jesus responded to their needs. Are you like Jesus? Would you allow Him to bear the burdens of others through you? Allow Him to be compassionate through you. Would you say today, ‘Lord I want you to love through me today, use me to lighten someone’s load’? God wants us to partner with each other and share in each other’s life.
2. We are to be Hospitable to the Strangers
a. Let’s look at the word “given.” It’s a very interesting term that is much stronger in the original language. It means to pursue intensely with the intent of accomplishing a goal or purpose. (Explain)
b. This was a very important injunction Paul made here. During this time Christians were being persecuted and they were scattered, homeless, hungry, and in poverty.
c. Paul said to seek out these people to help them. Bring them into your home. Feed them. Offer them rest.
d. Today there are real people with real problems right here in our community
1. People in nursing homes that have been forsaken that just needs a friend or personal items that could ease their life or brighten their day.
2. People in hospitals that needs encouragement or something done at their home while they’re there.
3. People that need a hot meal
4. People who need some financial need met. Do this with discernment.
e. We are to pursue opportunities to help people no matter their appearance or circumstance. And we are to do it with joy, not with an attitude of being burdensome. 1Pt.4:9 Do it without grumbling
Illustration: 2Tim.1:16 The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; 17 but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. Onesiphorus was not repulsed by Paul’s imprisonment. He made it a point to go and find Paul with the purpose of encouraging Paul and bringing cheer to his life.
f. John said it was true mark of God’s love.
1Jn.3:17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
g. Jesus said it would be remembered at the judgment. Matt. 25:34-46
Application: Have you opened up your heart to people? Would you take the time to seek out someone to love and help? I’m afraid many times our love is about as long as our tongue, it doesn’t go much further than the tip of it. We are to reach out to believers and unbelievers alike. Jesus was moved with compassion. He met their needs, both physical and spiritual. People really don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care. Do you care for people?
B. The Attitude of Compassion
1. We are not to be Hypocritical
a. One of the easiest things which actually comes natural is to weep or be moved at the tears of someone else.
b. Someone is experiencing difficulty or hardship we feel and understand their pain and it is easier for us to weep.
c. But what about in the success of others? When someone has had good fortune or maybe even doing a little better than you.
d. If we would all be honest, we all find it easier to sympathize with the hurting than rejoicing with the successful.
e. Paul is not talking about the appearance of happiness but true heartfelt rejoicing. He’s not talking about putting on the happy face of deceit.
Illustration: Your friend gets a promotion or a raise at work and you don’t. Someone’s life is being blessed with success. You say ‘WOW’ I’m really happy for you,’ but the all the while you’re saying just rub it in.’ You see someone in church in whom God is using in a mighty way. And you express the face of happiness but not the heart of happiness. You turn away saying, ‘God should be using me that way.’
1Cor.12:26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Application: The one thing that hinders the rejoicing in the believers heart for another is pride, envy, and jealously. We must realize that none of us are in competition. We are one body unified in Christ.
f. Weeping with others carries the same notion of being sincere. We are to realize that their problems are ours. That is the heart of our Father. He sympathizes with our hurt. He bottles our tears and records them in His book Ps.56:8. We to are to enter into the sorrows of others.
2. We are to be Humble
a. Don’t be Partial
This phrase means to live in harmony with one another, to live in unity
1. Treat everyone the same
2. What your willing to do for one, be willing to do for all
3. Jesus showed the same compassion, consideration, courtesy for the woman at the well as He did the Jewish ruler Nicodemus.
4. Open your heart to all in the same way,” “think about each person in the same way as you think about every other person,” or “care for all in the same way.”
b. Don’t be Proud
1. “Mind not high things” People, Positions, Power, or Prestige
2. In other words, don’t court the rich and neglect the poor. Don’t just associate with the upper class, the neat and clean, and avoid the lower class, that’s poorly dressed and needy. Illustration: Poor man in 1st Baptist Church James 2:1-4
3. Don’t seek honor in this world. Set your affections on things above Col.3
1Tim.6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
4. Paul was saying don’t be stuck on yourself. Don’t be self – promoting. Don’t place yourself in a state of superiority over someone else. To think you know it all
1 Cor. 8:2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
Gal.6:3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
Proverbs 18:12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
Illustration: Haman embarassment