Why Show Compassion?
One of the areas that the church will focus on this year is to encourage everyone of us to show compassion to our neighbours. Pastor Oliver explains why this is so important.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. — Colossians 3:12 (ESV)
I had a meet-up with a brother this past week to read the Bible together. He was sharing how he had come to trust in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Instrumental to his openness to the good news was when he experienced love and kindness by Christians when he was studying overseas. He said that his Christian friends loved and cared for him in many practical ways when he was alone far from home. He also said that he had a roommate who would also show compassion to the homeless in the city by going out weekly to befriend the urban poor and to buy them a meal. The compassion of his roommate made a strong impression on him and led him to further explore the claims of the gospel.
The church is to be about the task of disciple-making, that is proclaiming the gospel in evangelism and missions, and growing disciples, rooted in the gospel, to Christlike maturity (Matt 28:16-20; Mk 13:10, 14:9; Acts 1:8; Col 1:28; 2 Tim 2:1-2, 4:2). But even as we are about good news, we are faced with the question: what is the role of good works? Or to put it more specifically, why should churches encourage ministries of compassion and mercy? In Scripture, the word translated as ‘compassion’ can also be translated as ‘pity’, ‘mercy’ or ‘tender mercies’. Therefore, compassion and mercy can be regarded as having similar meaning. So why encourage ministries of compassion and mercy by individual Christians? It is because compassion is part of the character of God, compassion pleases God, Christians are called to show compassion and works of compassion adorn the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Compassion is part of the character of God (Ex 34:6-7, Ps 145:8-9, Lk 6:36)
One of the characters of God we see revealed in Scripture is that our God is a God of compassion. In the Old Testament, God shows His concern for the “widows, fatherless, sojourners and poor”. God not only shows compassion and mercy to His people, God has compassion on all peoples. Psalm 145:8-9 tells us
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”
Compassion is part of the perfect character of God. God’s compassion is the foundation for our compassion and our works of mercy.
Compassion pleases God (Isa 1:13-17; Phil 4:18)
Our God is not only a God of boundless compassion, God also is delighted when His people show compassion. Isaiah 1:13-17 tells us that God does not delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices but He is pleased when His people
“learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” (v.17)
Our God of compassion is pleased when His people demonstrates compassion and do good works of mercy to help others in need.
Christians are to show compassion to our neighbours (Mic 6:8, Lk 6:36; 10:33-34)
Individual Christians are commanded in Scripture to show compassion and mercy to their neighbours. God in the Old Testament tells His people in Micah 6:8,
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
In the New Testament, Jesus himself tells His disciples to be merciful and to do good, especially to their enemies, in Luke 6:36,
“Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”
Christians are to show compassion because God Himself has shown us compassion and mercy through Jesus Christ. Our compassionate God gave us His son so that we would not perish but have eternal life (Jn 3:16).
Compassion and good works and adorns the good news (Tit 2:10)
Lastly, works of compassion and mercy adorns or ‘makes attractive’ the gospel of Jesus Christ. Good works is not the good news. And the church needs to be about telling the good news. And the good news of Jesus Christ is infinitely beautiful and good on its own. However, as in the case of my friend above, good works adorns the good news. It gives an hearing for the gospel to be shared. Also, as we show compassion and kindness, it opens opportunities for us to build relationships, which may then allow us the possibility to share with our friends the greatest love of all – that is God sending His son Jesus Christ as a sacrificial atonement to meet our greatest need, that is the forgiveness of sins.
So as a church this year, we will place emphasis on encouraging individual Christians to show compassion to their neighbours. We will have opportunities throughout this year for us to be discipled in this area, so look out for them. And if you do want to get involved in some of the compassion work currently being done, you can consider our work with two children homes: Gracehaven and Gladiolus Place, as well as our Tuition/Homework Support which happens every Wednesday evenings. You can email or contact me and I can put you in touch with the relevant teams involved.
For further reading, Pastor Kevin DeYoung has written a short blog article on mercy (or compassion) ministry. The article helps us to think through our mercy ministry.
Prepare for worship this Sunday by reading through Romans 1:18-32 a few times this week. Pray for our hearts as we prepare to hear God’s Word. Come prepared on Sunday to hear God’s Word preached.
Monthly Prayer Meeting is on this Friday 25 Jan 2019 from 8.00 pm to 9.30 pm at Rooms 516-519 (Level 5 GBC). Do come together as church to pray for one another and for the advancement of the gospel.
Registration for our Church Camp is ongoing! Be sure to register early for the camp! You can register at the table at the fellowship hall (level 3) after our EC worship service or register online here.