Are You Compassionate or Just Feeling Sorry?

Other than the weather being absolutely beautiful, today was like any other Sunday for me; get up, make the coffee, read my Bible and then head off to the 9:00 AM church service with my bride. I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember, and truthfully it is one of my favorite weekly routines. Today after church we decided to make our weekly pilgrimage to the Cracker Barrel with our friend Rosie for a little breakfast. The food and fellowship is always great and it too is another thing I look forward to each week.

As we were enjoying our breakfast today, I noticed the hostess seat an elderly man at the table next to ours. He was there dining alone, and as we were almost finished with our meal I thought it would be odd to ask him to join us. But as I watched him, the Holy Spirit on the inside of me began stirring my heart and I felt as if God was telling me to buy the man’s lunch. When our waiter came back to freshen my coffee, I asked him if he would add the man’s meal to my ticket, which he did.

We went about our morning, talking a little longer than usual when I noticed the man asking our server about his check. They talked for a few minutes, and then I saw him stand up, pull out his wallet and place a few bills on the table. I thought he might have said thank you or something (even though I wasn’t looking for that from him), but he stepped away from the table and left the room.

Our waiter came up to me a few minutes later with another check in his hand for me, apologizing as he explained when he told the gentleman someone had paid for his meal, he adamantly demanded the young man bring him his check, that he was quite capable of paying for his own meal, thank you very much.

Now he didn’t make a scene, but it got me to thinking, why wouldn’t someone receive the blessing for what it was, an anonymous person just wanting to do something nice? The way I figure it, God is going to bless me regardless because I was obedient to do what He spoke to my heart. But did the gentleman look at it as pity? Because as I think about it, it was compassion which made me reach into my wallet to pay for his lunch.

There’s a difference between compassion and just feeling sorry for someone. The way I like to look at it is this, feeling sorry for someone is realizing they are in need but not doing anything about it. Compassion sees someone in need and then moves to effect change in the situation. I felt compassion for the man sitting alone, and decided to do something about it. I mean I could have just sat there and thought, “Poor man.” and never did anything to effect change in his life. The fact he didn’t want to accept the change is on him I guess.

I always want to move in the area of compassion more than just feeling sorry for things I see. This doesn’t mean I’m great at it, believe me there have been plenty of times where I have overlooked opportunities because of the inconvenience or cost of them, but I do strive to do better every day. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all did this? I’m going to try and do better, how about you?

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

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