Dear Gracefilled Lillies,
Scripture: Joel 2:13
This scripture is about compassion. A recurring theme for me lately. So let's look at the word "Compassion" first and what it means.
God normally talks to us through recurring themes and topics over time popping up in our daily quiet times with Him, Scripture, and events that happen in our lives. He can use our circumstances to talk to us and enforce lessons He wants us to learn, repeat or take a test on.
God is concerned about our character more than our comfort. He will use what happens to us, to speak to our spirits about who He is and what He wants for us to become.
Last week we encountered a lady who contacted us online. She is going through some similar challenges to our own but much worse actually. The difference is that we have a family to support us through our trials, but she doesn't. That made me think how very blessed we are. We did what we could within our means to encourage her and to be practical with our support.
In the end, I wasn't sure if she was a person we could really trust to tell the whole story and the truth about her situation. I received some discernment regarding this. What I ministered to her was that she doesn't owe us any explanations or need to prove her story. The road for us in this was clear. We didn't encourage her or offer help to gain anything from it or from her. She didn't need to prove her worth before we showed up for her. We did it because God has shown compassion to us and does so daily. He wants us to show His character in our compassion towards others in the same way...even when it is hard to do or uncomfortable.
He doesn't ask us to first change or be different or be perfect before He helps us. He helps us because He loves us. He knows that we will change once we realize what He has done for us.
My hope always when helping someone God sends our way, is that somehow they might meet Jesus in the process and that would be the greater help they actually need.
In our country we are riddled with conmen and women and the general spirit ruling at the moment is one of corruption and deceit. Dishonor, lies, self-promotion, greed, crime, and corruption has become the legacy of the South African people. It really saddens me as we are also known to be about 80% Christian. It doesn't make any sense. So trusting people, especially strangers, is hard to do. Opening up to people you just met, trusting them, doesn't come easy.
What we need is discernment in moments when we are faced with challenging situations and the hurt and destruction we see in other's lives. How does God want me to respond? How does He open up the truth to me? It is important to be aware of the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit within you.
I know quickly when people don't tell me the full story or tell a lie. How do I know? I asked God a while ago to give me a physical sign in my body, a response that would help me discern honest from dishonest, sincere from insincere and the truth from a lie. He was faithful and used a painful event to open my eyes to that physical gut feeling. I call it my "pit-of-the-stomach-nauseousness"-feeling. I know God uses it to protect me and make me aware and then He will guide me through my obedience of Him, to do the right thing and show me how to respond.
What is important to note is that through His Word and His values He teaches you over time, you will know and have the right response at hand. Always act from a place of peace and calm. That is number one. If you feel rushed or pushed into something, stop and rethink it. Nothing done in haste is from God. You can know it is probably not. God is a God of order, so allow Him time to speak to you when you need to make desitions.
When someone asks for help, no matter how desperate their situation, also ask God for His leading in what to do. Always be kind and compassionate. Jesus didn't send people away. He met their physical need as well as their spiritual need all at the same time. Follow His example.
But when you discover that someone is not being honorable in their dealings with you or has a hidden agenda, tread carefully and ask God for wisdom.
My husband has a great gift of giving. I always remind him that never offer something to someone if you don't have it to give. You cannot offer someone else's resources too. Always give what you know you can give because you actually own it yourself. It is available to you to give away if you want to. Don't make empty promises because then you create an expectation in someone's heart that you may never be able to fulfill. Also, don't give hesitantly. Give freely. Don't give because you think the other person deserves it or not. They may not deserve it. It doesn't mean that God doesn't want you to give it. Be obedient to Him first and foremost. If He says give what you have, then do it. He is your reward. Because hubby's first instinct always is to give, he needs me to remind him to stop and think about it and ask God for His will. It is a wonderful gift to have, but people may abuse it. Once again, we all need wisdom even in giving.
I saw my husband stop the car and take off his shoes to give to a begging boy who barely had a shirt and a pair of shorts on. We were on our way to the shops and when we came back the same way, he was still standing without shoes, in the middle of the road, begging. See, he probably owns a pair of shoes on the side, but he needs to play the part to get people to give to him. The worse off he looks, the more people will stop to give him money. We just gave him shoes, and yet he wasn't wearing it. So, what was the lesson here? Should we have stopped or not? Was it about what we did or was it about how he would respond? This lesson cost my husband a pair of shoes. I know he now thinks about it and asks God for His leading. I learned this lesson while on a missions trip to India a couple of years ago. The beggars are actually a community all on their own. You are born into that community and you will probably die in it. Parents (and this broke my heart) will break their baby's bones so they are lame and can play the beggar part more convincingly. I saw this with my own eyes. Young boys limping on the ground, begging for money or food. It is heartbreaking. What I took away from this was that some people don't even realize that what causes bigger poverty in their lives is the fact that they are dishonest, that they use their situation to the fullest and con people into giving. They con people who would probably have given to them anyway. They play the "heartbreak" card and all that does is make us think twice when someone really in need comes our way. How sad.
It is uncomfortable to be faced with people in real need. It is painful to see and think of, right. Most people quickly give something so they just don't have to deal with that person or situation any further. That is not compassion. That is also not the attitude Jesus wants us to have. He paused His program and busy schedule and even His ministry to get sidetracked by those in need. He gave them His full attention. He loved them. How can we do the same each day?
So, should we give or not is the question? If the world is so corrupt, should we still open our hearts and give? We often get people at our gate and my dad use to have a little ministry going to give them food and the gospel. If he could, he would give a bible, strike up a conversation. But lately, things have become so hairy in our country that you cannot afford to open your gate to strangers. One frequent beggar comes with a real nasty attitude and we suspect he stole our copper doorbell at the gate. He is always insistent that we give him what he wants and not what we have to give. I am adamant not to open our place of safety to just anybody.
But in the end, I know that Jesus, despite the realities of my life in my own country and the experience we have in this very cruel, very aggressive and unstable loveless world, still wants me to live with compassion. He said that we would always have the poor with us. "Poor" to me, is not just lacking physical things, but also spiritual. I know He came to seek and save the lost. So that should also be my mission and the mission of every believer.
I know that we are facing a very difficult time in our country with the elections coming up, the aggression and corruption pot spilling over into social media and the news daily, but I know that God wants believers to shine His light of Righteousness wherever we can whenever we can.
I challenge you to not just journal about compassion but to live it in every situation that comes your way. It is not about people deserving of it. It is about Jesus giving it to us freely, so we can spill it over into others.
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