Exercising Compassion

We’re talking about principles that are part of the Navigators Neighbors Guiding and Defining Ideas. Here’s Guiding Principle #2: Exercise compassion toward those in need.

As I consider what this looks like in everyday life and ministry, a quote by Haddon Robinson I heard long ago still rings in my ears. In conclusion to a fabulous sermon he gave on the parable of the Good (Merciful) Samaritan, he said, “Your neighbor is anyone whose need you see, whose need God put you in a position to meet.” Let me briefly review the parable.

An astute expert of the law once asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” You recall the story Jesus told (see Luke 10:25-37). A man was stripped of his clothes, beaten, robbed, and left by the side of the road. A priest and a Levite both saw this man, but passed by on the other side of the road. A Samaritan happened upon this helpless man, saw his need, felt compassion for him, and showed mercy by meeting his immediate and ongoing needs.

In fact, Jesus demonstrates this same three-fold pattern—see a need, feel compassion, act mercifully. For example, once a man with leprosy came to Jesus hoping to be made clean. “Moved with pity, [Jesus] stretched out his hand and touched him,” and He healed him (Mark 1:41). Again, Jesus had compassion upon the great crowd, “because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34).

Here’s how this can break down. We can fail to see or observe the need, in which case there is no action. Or we can see the need but feel sadness, sympathy, or pity rather than compassion, and these emotions may not lead to appropriate action. When we feel compassion, it always moves us to action.

Since we’re to love our neighbors, who is your neighbor today? Whose need do you see that you can meet?