Often, when we talk about compassion, we immediately picture money being given to the poor, schools being built, loving the sick and praying for them in hospitals.
I have found that in discussions about compassion, this is the usual path we take. These are very much noble and loving things to do. In fact, I would like to think of this as evidence of compassion.
What is internal compassion ?
I was recently prompted to think more deeply on what internal compassion looks like. This is the part that is private. Where the focus is shifted away from what you have given or done but rather on what you are actually processing and feeling.
I remember a couple of years back during the Christmas season, I wanted to join some fellow friends on this giving quest. All we had to do was buy a few clothes, supplies for the orphans and send them to Zimbabwe. While this was a fantastic idea, I soon realised that I had no money to do this. I became restless and self-absorbed with how it would make me look if I did not contribute to this cause.
I found myself feeling a little upset seeing my friends post about the lovely gifts they were sending to the orphans. Instead of celebrating and being thankful, I was suddenly consumed with feelings of jealousy and self pity.
The Bible compels us to keep our hearts with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23). So here was my challenge, to reflect on what was really in my heart when it came to compassion. If I didn't have the finances to show the evidence of what I call compassion, would I still be internally compassionate?
Social media vs God's given purpose
Is my compassion driven by the social media likes, the awards, the praises, the cute messages we get from the orphans and widows (not saying that this is wrong), or my compassion is genuinely driven by knowing God’s heart and seeing people "loved up"?
The external is great because it serves as the hard evidence but we must make sure that the source of that evidence is rooted from those private moments with God. That if no one said thank you, you would still give.
How many times have you said or heard someone say "I even sent them some money or I always do things for them but they don't ever call to say thank you to me"?
We love and seek glory as humans. At what point do we internally grow to a standard of learning to be compassionate even to the point of no appreciation?
In this season, let's reflect and get right with God in such a way that when we stretch our hands to give, we do it wholeheartedly because we just love.
If you are like me, where I have no money to give, rather than self-pity, perhaps give your time and pray or talk to someone. Let us be unreservedly compassionate this season, in our hearts first and then externally seeking no rewards for ourselves but faithfully serving those in need.
Vickie Storm is the Commissioning Editor for Religious Affairs.