Compassion is a powerful emotion that carries the potential to change the world around us. While empathy is a feeling that involves a caring, emotional response to the suffering of others, compassion adds to that a strong desire to ease our neighbor’s pain. It turns our concerns for others into action and is a critical emotion that moves us to bring hands and feet to the commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In the 24th and 25th chapters of the book of Matthew, Jesus began his teaching concerning the signs of the End Times. The text contains warnings and distressing words surrounding the end of the church age. At the end of his sermon, Jesus talked about separating the “sheep” from the “goats” in reference to how God will judge the world and men’s deeds. He then offered an allegory:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 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; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.’”
In the parable, the men did not understand the king’s words since they had not done anything to help him. The king then clarified:
“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.’”
Regardless of one’s belief concerning Christ and his teachings, this passage should give us pause.
It does not matter how many times we grace the doors of our sanctuaries, how many religious titles we hold, how often we read Scriptures, or how many hours we spend in prayer. Jesus’ warning is clear: If our religion does not translate into compassion toward the needy, we should undoubtedly search our hearts.
Indeed, later on in the New Testament, the apostle James beautifully summarized Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels concerning religion:
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
In December 2022, I interviewed Dr. Don Schoendorfer, a bioengineer and founder of the Free Wheelchair Mission. In our conversation, I asked about the moment the idea for his organization was born.
Schoendorfer was in Morocco on vacation in 1979 when he witnessed a woman without legs crawling across a street while numerous people walked past the dirty, breathless figure struggling to make it to the other side of the road.
The scene never left his heart. Years later, God used the compassion Schoendorfer felt in Morocco to challenge him to use his decades working as a bio-engineer for the medical device industry to start the foundation that has provided free wheelchairs for 1.4 million people worldwide since 2001. His new book, “Miracle Wheels,” tells the story in a compelling way that has challenged me to think about how I am using my God-given talents to help others in need.
For me, it is sharing the Gospel’s life-changing message with women in shelters while providing for their needs, as well as teaching believers struggling with hardships to find the abundant life that Christ has promised through the unchanging truths of Scriptures.
What is your niche? How can your experiences and gifts compassionately change the world around you?
Regardless of our financial status or feelings of inadequacy, genuine compassion finds a way to do something with the gifts and talents God has bestowed upon us to help others.
May we be challenged to find a way to turn our empathy toward the hurting and needy into compassion, lest our religion becomes empty and, worst of all, unnoticed by the King.
Find out more about Free Wheelchair Mission and the book at www.freewheelchairmission.org/. Listen to Patricia’s interview with Dr. Schoendorfer on her podcast God-Sized Stories with Patricia Holbrook.
Patricia Holbrook is a columnist, author, podcaster and international speaker. Visit her website www.soaringwithHim.com. Subscribe to her podcast and YouTube channel for all interviews. For speaking engagements and comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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