by Paula Schnittger
The word just jumped into my mind during devotions this morning – COMPASSION.
I have been reading through the history of the beginning of an organization (called Overseas Christian Servicemen Centers – now called Cadence) that God used to bring me to Christ back in 1964 in the Philippines where my father was stationed in the military. My family were church goers, which was a constant wherever we were stationed. But, while in the Philippines, the denominational churches we had attended were no longer there. There was the chapel with the variety of chaplains that ministered but we were drawn to a home off-base that welcomed servicemen of all ages, backgrounds and status. Most were single enlisted men but there were a few families like us that came to Friday night Bible studies – Victory Hour – as it was called.
After several meetings, I came to realize that all the church attending and the many Bible stories that I knew weren’t enough to get me to heaven. On one of the retreats that we attended, I came to understand that John 3:16 was for ME – I was included in the sacrifice that the Lord Jesus made on the cross. It wasn’t just for the “terrible” sins of bank robbers and murderers – it was for ME. My father encouraged me to speak to the man who had spoken that night but as a thirteen year old I was a little shy about that. I received Christ in my closet as I changed my clothes for bed, leaving wet spots on my pajamas where the tears of joy and relief fell.
COMPASSION – all the leaders and missionaries that I met there in the Philippines could be characterized by this word. It was the characteristic of the first Christians I became associated with at as a young teenager. They genuinely loved me and wanted me to grow in the Lord. They went out of their way to help me – even starting a Bible class in the school I attended on the base so I could invite friends to hear the gospel and grow in Christ. These missionaries genuinely loved the Lord and His people. They trusted the Lord to supply their needs. They served gladly with COMPASSION.
Why does this word stand out to me? Because today we see many believers that just want their view to be accepted but they present it without COMPASSION. There are many with knowledge but without COMPASSION. It seems that points have to be made and arguments won at the expense of COMPASSION.
It is COMPASSION that opens homes, offers a listening ear, puts an arm around the hurting or takes the hand of a child. It is COMPASSION that unbelievers see in believers that draws them to Christ, the all compassionate One. It is COMPASSION that makes an officer in the army like my father open his home for enlisted men who never saw that kind of COMPASSION in others.
During my high school years, our home was made open to any who wanted to stay a weekend with us and go to church with us. Enlisted men were in awe of the tall army colonel who looked like a cross between Andy Griffith and Fess Parker and his wife. To think that he would invite enlisted men to their home! Not only were the enlisted men invited but also ROKs (Republic of Korea marines) came when they were picked up by my father. Why? Because of COMPASSION.
I am reminded that Christ had COMPASSION for the multitude that came to Him (i.e., Mt. 9:36). Now, I can’t heal or forgive sins, but I can show COMPASSION that will draw others to know Him. May that be your quest in this uncompassionate world.