Friday, July 10, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Compassion


Transformational Compassion
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 
When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” 
–Matthew 25:37-40 (NIV)

Recently, I was introduced to a phrase that caught my attention and has stuck with me: “transformational compassion.”

When I heard it, my mind was stimulated to imagine stories or scenes of compassion that transformed a life. My first thought was a song published by Ray Boltz. 


His song talks about a man who dreamed that he went to Heaven. While there he met many people, he heard angels sing. Then one day he heard someone call his name. When he turned around he saw a young boy approaching him. The boy thanked him for giving himself as a youth mentor and for his consistent invitation to accept Christ. The boy said that he responded to his appeal and God changed his life. He said, “Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am a life that was changed.”

My mind leapt to a story I read years ago about a teen boy walking home from school. On his way, he saw a younger boy walking home with an enormous amount of stuff. 


Uncharacteristically, he offered to help. The younger boy accepted his offer.

As they walked, they talked. Something clicked between them. Upon arrival at the home of the younger boy, the older boy said to the younger boy, “I will see you tomorrow.” Years went by and their relationship grew. On the day of the younger boy’s graduation, he thanked his friend profusely. As the older boy demurred, the younger boy told him that on the day that they met, he was carrying so much stuff because he was taking everything he had at school, home.

He intended to kill himself that evening, but the kindness of the older boy and the last words that he said (“I’ll see you tomorrow”), transformed his gloom into hope.

Jesus spoke of transformational compassion in Matthew 25:34-40 (NIV). He paints a word picture of socio-economic disparity and the moral imperative of individual responsibility:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

The twist in this story is that the transformational effect of compassion was meaningful to the recipients and salvific for the giver. In this story, Jesus Christ was teaching His followers not only that doing right is its own reward, but also that there is a cosmic accounting of the smallest acts of kindness.

In my first example, the life of a child was changed eternally because of the consistent prayer of a mentor. The second example demonstrates how a simple, spontaneous act of kindness, saved a life, created an undying relationship and changed at least two lives.

The object lesson of the Christ is that acts of kindness to the poor, hungry, downtrodden, addicted, imprisoned or different, are really declarations of the giver, into the cosmos, of the caliber of one’s character. In that parable, the purveyors of compassion were ushered into the presence and fellowship of God.

Today, I pray that you may feel challenged to make an investment of kindness into someone’s life. Your deed of kindness may be the catalyst that catapults someone else from doom and gloom to hope and purpose. Your investment of kindness will be noted and affirmed in this world and the next. May dividends flow upon you from the storehouses of heaven in such abundance that you become a greater conduit of grace and kindness than you ever dreamed!

~*~
Author Bio:

Chaplain Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps. 


Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.

He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees: a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.

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