People do not mind receiving compassion from others, but they often refrain from giving it, because they think it is a sign of weakness. But compassion is not weakness. It is actually a rare demonstration of strength—for compassion possesses an unrelenting desire for right and truth to prevail.
A compassionate person wants to right the wrongs he sees. He yearns to silence the roar from years of disappointment in the life of another. He wants to answer questions that others are unwilling to even acknowledge. He willingly takes the responsibility to become the shock absorber for other people’s lives—even when he does not feel like doing it and even when those individuals don’t deserve it. His heart’s desire is to help remove the obstacles from others, so they can get in a position to get back on track and finally start succeeding. Compassion is willing to put its shoulder under the pain of another, to momentarily lighten the load.
The opposite of compassion is indifference. The attitude of an indifference person is, “I do not care what you are going through, because I am not the one who has to deal with it. You deal with your own pain, and I will deal with mine.” This may sound harsh and unrealistic but, truth be known, it happens most of the time, if not in words then certainly in actions.
This is the attitude of the selfish—not of those who walk by ethical principle. However, as we establish the pillar of compassion in our lives, we will set ourselves free from the self-centeredness that has plagued us from our earliest memories.
When men and women of principle observe that a fellow human being is going through a difficult time, they will strive to encourage and restore their comrade. They consider and remember that, as members of the human race, they too, are susceptible to temptation, adversity, and heart-break; so, they desire to help bear their brother’s burden.
The word “bear” means to position oneself underneath the pain or the weight of another. This enables that needy person to stand upright and to gain enough strength to, once again, carry his own burden of responsibility.
This individual relieves the pain of another. He erases the shame. He lifts up the weighty burden. He shares the heavy load that someone else has been enduring all alone.
We must develop a desire to live a life of uncompromised principle, for one primary purpose—to show others how to walk out of their own personal prisons of pain. How? By pursuing deep compassion, which is the cloak that character wears during the moments it is relating to a dying world.
We are to be people of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. It does not matter if we did not learn this while growing up. We can learn how to reject indifference and selfishness, and begin to embrace compassion, kindness, and mercy!
Compassion must be shown in our actions. If we see someone struggling with problems and needs, and we close our eyes and hearts to his pain, how can we claim to be caring people? A person of character demonstrates compassion by actions, for it is hollow when expressed by words alone.
Of course, it is important to stay alert for deceptive “con artists.” These people are usually irresponsible freeloaders who wish to take advantage of those of us who are really committed to helping the needy. Remember this: We, ourselves, will be helped as we first seek to help others. The universal law of sowing and reaping will always operate for our benefit, as we demonstrate genuine compassion for those around us. This law states that whatever a man sows, he eventually reaps.
As people of compassion, we are summoned to:
- Help bring truth to people who are caught in self-deception and ignorance
- Help carry heavy burdens with which people are struggling
- Fight for the freedom of the oppressed and the protection of the innocent
- Offer the rescuing power of wisdom and truth to those who desire to escape poverty, dependency, and addiction
- Share our food with the hungry
- Provide hospitality to the poor and the outcasts of society
- Clothe those whom we find naked.
Acts of kindness are the “get-well cards” left in the hearts of the broken by those who are compassionate. We must determine to become people of action instead of people of mere talk. Our lives consist of what we do, not what we say. We may think we are compassionate individuals, but until we see how we respond to the tests that come our way, we will never truly know what kind of people we are. Sympathy or good intentions do nothing to bear another’s burden—actions do.
All we need to do is stop listening to a person’s words and begin listening to their actions. Watch how he responds to those less fortunate than himself. Check to see if he makes himself scarce when his friends are going through rough times. Ask his wife how he treats her behind closed doors. That is how we can know who a person truly is.
“I am a man of compassion,” someone might say, but what about all the insensitive, flippant responses he gives to those who are hurting? We are people of compassion not because we say we are, but because others say we are. Life becomes very simple when we understand this principle.
As we express compassion to others—not only with words but also with deeds—we experience great fulfillment. Personal freedom and prosperity dawn in our lives just as predictably as the sun comes up over the eastern horizon every morning at sunrise… Come next Monday, I am going to be rounding off this life-changing series. Till then, see you where successful leaders are found!