The Humility of Compassion

I normally don’t post twice in one day, but I just had an experience I need to share. It relates to a larger characteristic I wish I would see more of.

My boss is gone on vacation this week, so I have been taking advantage of the time and walking around the campus at Myjob twice a day. This afternoon, as I was walking by one of the medical buildings, I saw a young family in front of me. I expected them to turn into one of the buildings, but they kept going. I soon realized they were lost. I asked if I could help them find something. When they responded in the affirmative, I took them to where they needed to go. She was pregnant and they were going to her doctor’s appointment. I made sure we took the ‘inside way’ to the correct medical building because it’s turning into a hot day here in Mytown and I knew she’d be uncomfortable continuing to walk outside.

So why was this act humbling and compassionate? The family did not know English very well. They had a map and a confirmation receipt for the mother’s doctor’s appointment. I had to rely on them to tell me where they needed to go. In spite of what I tell my children, I don’t know everything. It was humbling to follow their lead. Why compassionate? The family was lost and it was hot outside – I made sure they found their way and didn’t get lost. I told the dad I was taking him through the building because it was cooler for his family.

There are many people who wrap their acts of compassion in the banner of self-promotion. “Look what I did to help this person or this animal. Aren’t I such a wonderful person?!” Jesus told the story of two men who went to the synagogue to pray – one man was rich and known for his riches. The other man was a tax collector and people despised him. The rich man prayed in a loud voice so the room full of people could hear him. “Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like the sinners – adulterers, tax collectors, cheaters. See how I fast twice a day and give my tithes to the church!” The tax collector stood in a back corner of the room and bowed his head in shame. “Oh, God. Be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” (Luke 18:10-13) Jesus admonished His disciples and said the tax collector was the better of the two men. Why? Because he prayed (acted) in humility.

When we act out of compassion, we experience humility when we quietly perform our deed. The very action of compassion itself is humbling because we must step outside of our comfort zone to do what we know is right. Was it right to let that family continue to wander around in the hot sun when the mom was so pregnant? No, of course not! The right thing to do was to make sure they got into a cool building and found the doctor’s office. You might say, “Well, that’s just being kind!” Yes, it is. What you don’t know is that this family was of an ethnicity I have expressed a strong dislike for in the past. I had to shove that aside and ask, “How may I be of service to you?”

Humility is stepping outside of ourselves and putting others first. Compassion is showing care for another person (or animal) by serving them as Christ served us. (Matthew 20:28: ‘The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve. . . .”) Don’t be afraid to humble yourself and serve others in the love of Christ. Stay tuned. . . .

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