A SERMON I BROUGHT AT THE COLLINGWOOD, ONTARIO, FEAST OF TABERNACLES 2018, WITH THE CANADIAN CHURCH OF GOD.
WE ALL NEED TO BE SHOWN COMPASSION; WE ALL NEED TO SHOW COMPASSION!
TURN TO EXODUS 20; WE SHALL READ VERSES 1 TO 6——
“AND GOD SPOKE ALL THESE WORDS, SAYING, I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD, WHICH HAVE BROUGHT YOU OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, OPUT OF THE HUSE OF BONDAGE….. AND SHOWING MERCY UNTO THOUSANDS OF THEM THAT LOVE ME, AND KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS.”
TO MOSES GOD SAID, “….I WILL MAKE ALL MY GOODNESS PASS BEFORE YOUY, AND I WILL PROCLAIM THER NAME OF THE LORD BEFORE YOU; AND WILL BE GRACIOUS TO WHOM I WILL BE GRACIOUS, AND WILL SHOW MERCY ON WHOM I WILL SHOW MERCY” [EXODUS 33:19].
MERCY, GRACE…… IS COMPASSION!
SOLOMON SAID, “….LORD GOD OF ISRAEL, THERE IS NO GOD LIKE YTOU, IN HEAVEN ABOVE OR ON EARTH BENEATH, WHO KEEPS COVENANT NAD MERCY WITH YOUR SERVANTS THAST WALK BEFORE YOU WITH ALL THEIR HEART” [1 KINGD 8:23].
“REMEMBER, O LORD, YOUR TENDER MERCIES AND YOUR LOVINGKINDNESS, FOR THEY HAVE BEEN EVER OF OLD” [PSALM 25:6].
“THE LORD IS GRACIOUS AND FULL OF COMPASSION; SLOW TO ANGER, AND OF GREAT MERCY” [PSALM 145:8].
“WHO IS A GOD LIKE UNTO YOU, THAT PARDONS INIQUITY, AND PASSES BY THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE REMNANT OF HIS HERITAGE? HE RETAINS NOT HIS ANGER FOR EVER, BECAUSE HE DELIGHTS IN MERCY. HE WILL TURN AGAIN, HE WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON US; HE WILL SUBDUE OUR INIQUITIES; AND YOU WILL CAST ALL THEIR SINS INTO THE DEPTHS OF THE SEA” [MICAH 7: 18, 19].
O YES, GREAT IS THE LOVE OF GOD UPON REPENTANT SINNERS; TO THOSE WHO KEEP THEIR HEART RIGHT WITH GOD, WHO EVER LOVE THE LORD’S COMMANDMENTS, AND WILL SET THEIR MIND-SET TO OBEY GOD, WHO WILL CONFESS THEIR SINS, ACKNOWLEDGE THEY ARE A SINNER, AND ALWAYS BE IN THAT HUMBLE REPENTANT ATTITUDE OF MIND; UPON SUCH THE COMPASSION OF THE ETERNAL KNOWS NO LIMIT! SINS WILL BE CAST INTO THE DEPTH OF THE SEA NEVER TO SURFACE AGAIN.
AND THAT SAID, I MUST SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THIS SO-CALLED “JUDGMENT” THAT CHRISTIANS ARE TO FACE. WHILE MANY FOCUS ON THE MIGHTY COMPASSION, MERCY, GRACE OF GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST; THEY THEN TUIRN AROUND AND TEACH THIS IDEA THAT WE ALL SHALL IN THAT JUDGMENT DAY, STAND BEFORE GOD, AND HAVE ALL OUR “GOOD” AND “EVIL” DOINGS WE’VE DONE, KINDA BROUGHT UP ON SOME HEAVENLY SCREEN—— AND SO BE “JUDGED”!
THAT TEACHING CONTRADICTS MANY MANY SCRIPTURES IN THE BIBLE, JUST A FEW WE HAVE SEEN ABOVE.
I HAVE ON THIS WEBSITE A FULL IN-DEPTH STUDY OF THE SO-CALLED “JUDGMENT DAY” TEACHING AS TAUGHT BY MANY FUNDAMENTAL PROTESTANTS. IT IS ANOTHER OF THEIR MANY FALSE TEACHINGS IN THEIR ARSENAL OF WRONG TEACHINGS.
YOU CAN FIND THIS IMPORTANT STUDY UNDER—— “SALVATION, LAW AND GRACE” SECTION, IT IS NEAR THE TOP CALLED “The Day of JUDGMENT.”
COMPASSION OR MERCY IS A HUGE TOPIC; I HAVE COVERED IT MANY TIMES ON THIS WEBSITE, BUT THIS IS FROM A DIFFERENT STANCE, YET A PART OF THE WHOLE TOPIC.
THE FOLLOWING IS TAKEN FROM——
GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION—— a book
By Brene Brown PhD
The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, meaning "to suffer with." I don't believe that compassion is our default response. I think our first response to pain—ours or someone else's— is to self-protect. We protect ourselves by looking for someone or something to blame. Or sometimes we shield ourselves by turning to judgment or by immediately going into fix-it mode.
Chodron [who she refers to for his writings] addresses our tendency to self-protect by teaching that we must be honest and forgiving about when and how we shut down: "In cultivating compassion we draw from the wholeness of our experience—our suffering, our empathy, as well as our cruelty and terror. It has to be this way. Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity. "3
In my story, Ashley was willing to be in my darkness with me. She wasn't there as my helper or to fix me; she was just with me— as an equal—holding my hand as I waded through my feelings.
Boundaries and Compassion
One of the greatest (and least discussed) barriers to compassion practice is the fear of setting boundaries and holding people accountable. I know it sounds strange, but I believe that understanding the connection between boundaries, accountability, acceptance, and compassion has made me a kinder person. Before the breakdown, I was sweeter—judgmental, resentful, and angry on the inside—but sweeter on the outside. Today, I think I'm genuinely more compassionate, less judgmental and resentful, and way more serious about boundaries. I have no idea what this combination looks like on the outside, but it feels pretty powerful on the inside. Before this research, I knew a lot about each one of these concepts, but I didn't understand how they fit together. During the interviews, it blew my mind when I realized that many of the truly committed compassion practitioners were also the most boundary-conscious people in the study. Compassionate people are boundaried people. I was stunned.
Here's what I learned: The heart of compassion is really acceptance.
The better we are at accepting ourselves and others, the more compassionate we become. Well, it's difficult to accept people when they are hurting us or taking advantage of us or walking all over us. This research has taught me that if we really want to practice compassion, we have to start by setting boundaries and holding people accountable for their behavior.
We live in a blame culture—we want to know whose fault it is and how they're going to pay. In our personal, social, and political worlds, we do a lot of screaming and finger-pointing, but we rarely hold people accountable. How could we? We're so exhausted from ranting and raving that we don't have the energy to develop meaningful consequences and enforce them. From Washington, DC, and Wall Street to our own schools and homes, I think this rage-blame-too-tired-and-busy-to-follow-through mindset is why we're so heavy on self-righteous anger and so low on compassion.
Wouldn't it be better if we could be kinder, but firmer? How would our lives be different if there were less anger and more accountability? What would our work and home lives look like if we blamed less but had more respect for boundaries?
I was recently brought in to talk with a group of corporate leaders who were trying to manage a difficult reorganization in their company. One of the project managers told me that, after listening to me talk about the dangers of using shame as a management tool, he was worried that he shamed his team members. He told me that when he gets really frustrated, he singles people out and criticizes their work in team meetings.
He explained, "I'm so frustrated. I have two employees who just don't listen. I explain every single detail of the project, I check to make sure they understand, and they still do it their way. I'm out of options. I feel backed into a corner and angry, so I take them down in front of their colleagues."
When I asked him how he was holding these two employees accountable for not following the project protocol, he replied, "What do you mean by accountable?" I explained, "After you check with them to make sure they understand your expectations and the objectives, how do you explain the consequences of not following the plan or not meeting the objectives?"
He said, "I don't talk about the consequences. They know they're supposed to follow the protocol."
I gave him an example, "Okay. What would happen if you told them that you were going to write them up or give them an official warning the next time they violated protocol and that if it continues, they're going to lose their jobs?"
He shook his head and said, "Oh, no. That's pretty serious. I'd have to get the human resources people involved. That becomes a big hassle."
Setting boundaries and holding people accountable is a lot more work than shaming and blaming. But it's also much more effective. Shaming and blaming without accountability is toxic to couples, families, organizations, and communities. First, when we shame and blame, it moves the focus from the original behavior in question to our own behavior. By the time this boss is finished shaming and humiliating his employees in front of their colleagues, the only behavior in question is his.
Additionally, if we don't follow through with appropriate consequences, people learn to dismiss our requests—even if they sound
like threats or ultimatums. If we ask our kids to keep their clothes off the floor and they know that the only consequence of not doing it is a few minutes of yelling, it's fair for them to believe that it's really not that important to us.
It's hard for us to understand that we can be compassionate and accepting while we hold people accountable for their behaviors. We can, and, in fact, it's the best way to do it. We can confront someone about their behavior, or fire someone, or fail a student, or discipline a child without berating them or putting them down. The key is to separate people from their behaviors—to address what they're doing, not who they are (I'll talk more about this in the next chapter). It's also important that we can lean into the discomfort that comes with straddling compassion and boundaries. We have to stay away from convincing ourselves that we hate someone or that they deserve to feel bad so that we can feel better about holding them accountable. That's where we get into trouble. When we talk ourselves into disliking someone so we're more comfortable holding them accountable, we're priming ourselves for the shame and blame game.
When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice. For our own sake, we need to understand that it's dangerous to our relationships and our well-being to get mired in shame and blame, or to be full of self-righteous anger. It's also impossible to practice compassion from a place of resentment. If we're going to practice acceptance and compassion, we need boundaries and accountability.
YES INDEED! AND THAT IS HOW GOD WORKS; HE HAS BOUNDARIES —— HIS HOLY WAYS AND COMMANDMENTS; THE WAY HE WANTS HIS CHILDREN TO LIVE. HE WANTS US TO ADMIT WE HAVE MISSED THE MARK OF HIS WAY OF LIVING IN OUR WORLD. HE SAYS, “YOU REPENT, GET A NEW MIND-SET OF LOVING ME AND MY BOUNDARIES; WANTING TO LIVE THEM; I WILL SHOW COMPASSION, MERCY, FORGIVENESS THROUGH MY SON JESUS CHRIST, WHO PAID FOR YOUR MESS-UPS; AS LONG AS YOU REMAIN IN THAT MIND-SET YOU’LL HAVE MY COMPASSION UNENDING, YOUR ERRORS, MISTAKES, SINS, WILL BE WASHED AWAY—— GONE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA NEVER TO SURFACE AGAIN. AND AS I HAVE COMPASSION ON YOU SO YOU MUST ALSO SHOW COMPASSION TO YOUR FELLOW HUMANS.”
In Reader's Digest Jim Williams of Butte, Montana, writes:
I was driving too fast late one night when I saw the flashing lights of a police car in my rearview mirror. As I pulled over and rolled down the window of my station wagon, I tried to dream up an excuse for my haste. But when the patrolman reached the car, he said nothing. Instead, he merely shined his flashlight in my face, then on my seven-months-pregnant wife, then on our snoozing 18-month-old in his car seat, then on our three other children, who were also asleep, and lastly on the two dogs in the very back of the car. Returning the beam of light to my face, he then uttered the only words of the encounter.
"Son," he said, "you can't afford a ticket. Slow it down." And with that, he returned to his car and drove away.
Sometimes mercy triumphs over law. So it is for sinners who call out to Jesus.
Grace, Law, Salvation Luke 18:9-14; Rom.11:32; James 2:12
Someone Once Said ...
If we could only read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.—
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Others will not care how much we know until they know how much we care. As one authority puts it:
If I just do my thing and you do yours, we stand in danger of losing each other and ourselves. We are fully ourselves only in relation to each other; the I detached from a Thou disintegrates. I do not find you by chance; I find you by an active life of reaching out.
—Walter Tubbs, "Beyond Pearls," Journal of Humanistic Psychology
A Greek class was given an assignment to study the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. These young theologion were to do an in-depth analysis of the biblical text, observing and commenting on all the major terms and syntactical factors worth mentioning. Each student was to write his own translation after having done the work on his commentary.
As is true in most language classes, a couple or three of the students cared more about the practical implications of the assignment than its intellectual stimulation. The morning the work was to be turned in, these three teamed up and carried out a plan to prove their point. One volunteered to play the part of an alleged victim. They tore his shirt and trousers, rubbed mud, catsup, and other realistic-looking ingredients across his "wounds," marked up his eyes and face so he hardly resembled himself, then placed him along the path that led from the dormitory to the Greek classroom. While the other two hid and watched, he groaned and writhed, simulating great pain.
Not one student stopped. They walked around him, stepped over him, and said different things to him. But nobody stooped over to help. What do you want to bet their academic work was flawless ... and insightful... and handed in on time?
This incident always reminds me of a scripture that penetrates the surface of our intellectual concerns. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" (1 John 3:16-17, NIV).
—Charles R. Swindoll, Compassion
NOW TO UNDERSTAND THESE TWO VERSES CORRECTLY WE MUST KNOW THE GREEK “TENSES” USED. REFERRING TO CHRIST “LAID DOWN” IS IN THE AORIST TENSE— AN ACTION DONE ONCE IN THE PAST AND CONCLUDED. JESUS DIED FOR SINNERS!
THE TENSE FOR SOMEONE SEEING HIS BROTHER HAVE NEED, IS IN THE “PRESENT” TENSE WHICH IS CONTINUAL——LIVING TO SERVE AND HELP OTHERS ALL OUR CHRISTIAN LIFE, WHENEVER WE CAN, WITH WHATEVER WE CAN.
The greyhound bus slowed—then stopped.
It was just a wayside stop with a garage and a small store. A young Indian stepped aboard and after he had paid his fare he sat down behind me.
It was February. We were traveling from Flagstaff, Arizona, to Albuquerque, New Mexico. The night was cold. In the warm bus the tired youth was soon asleep. But after about 20 minutes he got up and walked to the front of the bus to ask if we were near his destination. "We passed there a long time ago," the bus driver snapped. Acknowledging he had known the boy was riding beyond his stop, he ask angrily, "Why didn't you get off?"
The quiet passenger's shoulders drooped. He turned and came back to his seat. Barely had he sat down, when he rose again and went to the driver.
"Will you stop and let me off?" he asked.
I’ll walk back."
"No! It's too far and too cold. You'd freeze to death. You'll have to go into Albuquerque and then take a bus back."
Disappointment showed in his walk as he came back to his seat.
"Were you asleep?" I asked him.
"Yes, and my sister was waiting for me there." He dropped into the seat behind me.
I was returning to Wisconsin after serving a quarter term as a volunteer teacher in an Indian mission school. This experience had taught me the hard living conditions of the Indians in the area. The small adobe houses with earth floors, the lack of privacy in those little one-or-two-room houses.
The role played by teenagers was very hard. There was no room for them at home, yet they were not really ready to go out on their own.
All the while we were nearing Albuquerque, a large and strange city. I thought he must be wondering what he would do after he got there. I turned to him and asked, "Are you afraid?"
"Yes," he said, in a "hate-to-admit" way.
"Stay with me," I said, "and I'll help you get on the right bus back."
I talked to the driver: "Will you please check with the return driver, so he need not pay return fare?"
"OK," the driver reluctantly agreed.
"Everything will be all right," I told the boy.
"You need not worry about anything."
His eyes said, "Thank you!"
We rode on for possibly ten more minutes.
Then a hand tapped my shoulder. I turned to see my young friend leaning toward me. In a reverent voice he asked: "Are you a
—Olga Wetzel, Eternity magazine, February 1977
COMPASSION IS TO BECOME A PART OF US AS BREATHING IN AIR; IT IS TO BE SECOND NATURE TO US, WHEN WE REALLY SEE WE ARE TO USE IT. IT DOES NOT MEAN AS CHRISTIANS WE ARE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO WALK ALL OVER US, TAKING ADVANTAGE OF OUR KIND COMPASSIONATE MIND; THERE ARE PLENTY OF SCRIPTURE VERSES IN THE BIBLE THAT TELL GOD’S CHILDREN TO HAVE WISDOM IN HOW WE LIVE. BUT THAT SAID, WE JUST CANNOT GET AROUND THE FACT JESUS TAUGHT US TO BE COMPASSIONATE, WHEN IT IS NEEDED IN THE RIGHT SITUATIONS THAT MEET US IN THIS LIFE—— YES THE “GOOD SAMARITAN” PARABLE SITUATION.
BE COMPASSIONATE BRETHREN, AND OUR HEAVENLY FATHER AND HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, WILL BE COMPASSIONATE TO YOU.