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November 2013

Compassion In Action

By Beverley Carter

A man fell into a pit and could not get himself out. Four Christians walked by the pit, and each gave his or her observation of the situation. The first said, “Only bad people fall into pits.” The second announced, “I will bring you some food and water.” The third, a self-proclaimed optimist, told the unfortunate man in the pit, “Things could be worse.” The fourth and most pessimistic of the passersby proclaimed, “Things will get worse!” Finally, Jesus walked by the pit, saw the helpless man, took him by the hand and lifted him out of the pit!
Jesus, in so many ways, showed us the true meaning of compassion. It is not just feeling sorry or having pity for someone. To be compassionate, one must take action. Jesus demonstrated His love and compassion for the unfortunate man by reaching down and lifting him out of the pit.
This story reminds us how Christ, through Calvary, made it possible for all of us to escape the pit of sin. Once we have experienced this great love, we too, will endeavor to show it to others. Larry and Jean Elliott, Baptist missionaries from North Carolina, showed this love and compassion to others while working in the mission. The Elliots served for 26 years in Honduras before moving to Iraq. On March 15, 2004, the Elliots were killed in a drive-by shooting in Mosul, Iraq. At their funeral, held in their home church in North Carolina, Pastor Rummage said, “Larry and Jean loved the gospel and the souls of lost men and women more than themselves.” Someone then read an email received just a few days before the Elliots were killed: “We are happy to be here in Iraq, and our calling has been confirmed. This is a very special time for us, and God is so real. No matter what happens, we are in His hands, and we know that we are where we should be.” Another friend said of them, “They were led to go to the place of greatest need, of greatest urgency. The prospects of the gospel being planted drove them to give their lives with no concern for their own comforts or safety.”
Do you and I have enough compassion to move out of our comfort zone to reach others for Jesus? The Elliots’ eldest son, Scott, read some of the words from that beautiful song, “Thank You for Giving to the Lord.” The chorus states, “Thank you for giving to the Lord, I am a life that was changed. Thank you for giving to the Lord, I am so glad you gave.” Scott told about some of the people that were saved through his parents’ ministry. In closing, he touched his own heart and said, “Thank you, mom and dad, for living for the Lord. I am a life that was changed.”
There are many lives that need changing. While it is obvious we cannot help everyone, we certainly can help some, which sure beats helping none! Sometimes I feel like having a “compassion sabbatical.” (You might feel the same way, too.) I do not want to hear or see anymore sad stories, and then I remember that we will have eternity to have such a sabbatical! Until then, let us not look upon giving and helping those in need as an obligation, but rather as an opportunity to demonstrate the love of the compassionate Christ!

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