Thursday, November 6, 2014

Love and Compassion-Love with Passion

"Compassion" is a strong desire to help others. "Passion" is being enthused about it! Most of us have compassion, but few have a passion! We've all been blessed with feelings of good cheer when we see the appreciation of those we helped. It doesn't take much effort, but somehow on occasion we do go out of our way to help someone in need.

Drawing an analogy to the process of  sinning, if a person sins a little and feels the exhilaration of getting away with it, the person is apt to sin again and with each feeling of excitement, sins repeatedly Sin begets sin.. People sin for pleasure and it is exciting. With increased sin people become enthused with sinning. That's a passion for sinning.

Sin encourages more sin. In this manner sin is compounded: one sin leads to another, even greater sins. The best example of sin compounded is David "innocently" seeing Bathsheba bathing naked on the roof top. Seeing was innocent, but he dwelt on her beauty and had to have her. That was lust and led him to adultery and eventually murder!
James 1:12 "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. 13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren."
Man is cursed by our own desires! Acts of compassion have the same "passion" as what was just described with sin. Albeit, compassion and sin are polar opposite, God has blessed man with feelings of "passion" in being compassionate! Compassion is compounded with each act of compassion. If a person shows compassion on a person the reward is a feeling of joy for the love demonstrated. A feeling of joy leads to another felling of joy and another and another, until we are passionate about compassion!

To show compassion, it's only necessary to demonstrate love. Sometimes it's giving things, but charity is giving love. I had three enemies at work. For some reason these three people despised me. I sometimes deserve that! God led me to make amends with my biggest enemy and she was so receptive to my desire to be friends that her response blessed me! With that feeling of exhilaration I was excited to do the same with enemy number 2. He responded the same way: with a smile and a hand-shake! I was really excited and had a passion to make amends with the third person! You see that my first act of compassion gave me a passion to feel these feelings of exhilaration again and again. Just as compounded acts of sin pleasures the sinner, compounded actions of compassion stirs up passion! All I gave in my compassion was "love". It didn't cost a thing, but a little time and dealing with my pride.

Because I obeyed God's command to "love others" I was relieved from stress and guilt, but I didn't do that because God coerced me into making amends. I did it to please God, but I got the blessing anyhow! Those acts of compassion are acts of love! We are showing, when we do that, compassion as God shows us compassion:
1 John 4:8 "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."
 This is God's love and is transliterated from the Greek word agape. Dr. David Jeremiah said that agape is "love expecting nothing in return". I take issue with that definition because God always EXPECTS us to love him, but loves us even when we don't. That's God's grace! We don't first have to love God for his love, but as he can save the most awful sinner from eternal damnation, that born-again sinner loves him for his grace.
1 John 4:19 "We love him, because he first loved us.". 
God drew "first blood". His grace is because he loved us and is an act of compassion with a passion! We are born-again to save our own rotten skins and because God saves us, our emotion of thanks is love!  Yes, God does EXPECT us to love him back and even commands it:
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
God has a "Greatest Commandment" and a corollary: love God and others, the corollary.  Hence, "keeping my commandments" is having that love for God and others. Loving others is a demonstration that we love God! It's obvious from John 14:15 that God's EXPECTS us to love him back! Therefore, agape is not as Dr. Jeremiah defined it. In my search for "agape" (love), I like this definition:

Cooper Abrams in The Biblical Meaning of Love,  agape-type love is defined it this way: "purposeful commitment to sacrificial action for another".

There are several aspects of love in this definition. We are to love on purpose. It takes effort to love. It can "just happen", but most often we must WORK on loving others. That work we are to do is show compassion to a person and with that first work, then work becomes a joy. As was demonstrated, one act of compassion makes compassion a passion!

Secondly, agape love is a commitment. It's what we promise God we'll do because that's what he desires. Right now, we can say with sincerity "God, I promise to show love by being compassionate." That promise will allow God to show his love through us if it's a sincere desire!

Agape is sacrificial. With my act of compassion (above) it only cost my time and pride, but you know what? Pride and time are the two biggest obstacles to compassion! Showing compassion is not always pecuniary, but it can be. Sometimes I give something of value of which I hate to part. I have given away some really good fountain pens from my collection because the pleasure I get from the person's acceptance has more value than the pen to me!

On a business trip I often waited at Detroit Public Library for departure time. One day an elderly man approached me, showed me the bus schedule with the cost of $5.25 and asked that I "lend" him that amount. I only had six dollars and some change and since this was before debit cards came into vogue, I wanted to keep that money for my lunch. I wanted it for myself!

I considered God. His desire was for me to help! I took the chance that I just might be buying someone cheap wine and gave him $5.25. He had such a relieved look on his face and asked for my address so that he could repay me. I just asked that he return the favor to another some day. I was convinced by now that I had just showed compassion on a needy man and I felt great as he obviously did too. I had just sacrificed two things: my time and my own desire for lunch. It wasn't much to sacrifice, but it was sacrificial.

Epilogue: Two weeks later I was at the exact same spot, by the curb at Detroit Public Library. The wind was so strong that I could only walk with effort! As I stood there thinking about that elderly man I looked down at the curb for no particular reason. Although the wind was probably 30 mph, there lying on the ground was several bills resting peacefully all stretched out in the wind. I looked around and no one at all was in sight. I picked up a ten dollar bill, a five and a one. God had returned my compassion three fold with some change as a tip. My $5.25 had been returned to me by God in the amount of $16.00! God didn't do that because I needed the money, but to reward my act of compassion! I was rewarded for my sacrifice.

Going back to Abrams' definition, it took "action" for me to be compassionate. I had to do something! I took the time to empathize with the man and sacrificed my own lunch. It wasn't just a desire to help, but was putting that desire in action.

The last part of the definition is :"another". That's part of God's command. We are to love our neighbor. That neighbor is "another". In order to show compassion there must be an object of compassion. It's not agape when we sacrifice of our self for ourselves. That's the opposite. That's self-gratification delayed in time. For us to show God's type of love there must always be three parties: self (for sacrifice), God (return his love) and another (to demonstrate God's type of  love).

Unlike repeated sin which is obeying the voice of Satan, compassion is what pleases God. By showing compassion we are being Godly because the reason Jesus even existed is to show the ultimate compassion! His sacrifice for us was himself. We too are to sacrifice "the self" for others! We are to be "a living sacrifice!"

Pledge (promise) to God right now that today or the next opportunity, that you will show compassion to another. Do something to comfort somebody. Don't spend money if you don't want, but sacrifice something of yourself. Take the time to send a card, write a note of appreciation, visit the infirm, make a hospital call or just tell someone "I love and appreciate you!" Try me! I'll like that!

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