(Number 8 in a series of posts Ramblings from your Grandparents)
“When He saw the crowds He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
Jesus was, and is, our perfect example of compassion. Do you remember how He always had soft words of encouragement to those who were steeped in sin, but willing to listen to His instruction or genuinely seeking help? By comparison Jesus’ words lashed out at the Pharisees and Saducees of the day – learned, religious leaders – who by their selfish, narrow-minded legalism hindered people from seeing the real God of Heaven and His Wonderful Son, our Savior.
I remember how difficult it was as a young person to separate the things I believed to be right from the things God said must be. For instance, I wondered how you could tell the truth and still not hurt people’s feelings, if the truth wasn’t always comforting. In fact, I did….hurt feelings. My grandpa and grandma gave me a beautiful dress for Christmas one year when I was in my mid teens. I still remember the lovely blue-green color with angled stripes of pink and rose across the bodice. The design was very sophisticated. We did not live a very sophisticated life in those days with a low family income country-style. The beautiful dress would have been perfect on a lady about 35 who lived in the big city moving in upper-income society and able to afford appropriate shoes and accessories to enhance the lovely dress.
Quess what I did? Yes! I wrote my grandparents a lovely thank you note (as was my custom whenever their gracious gifts came my way). I told them what a pretty dress it was, but it was much too old for me. Ouch! Did I hurt their feelings, appear ungrateful? Grandpa and grandma were crushed and my parents weren’t too happy with me either. At 15 it was very difficult to realize I would have been truthful by just simply saying, “The dress is lovely. Thank you so much for thinking of me.”
There is a time to speak the truth in every minute detail. Every generation must learn to separate opinions and wishes from “thus saith the Lord.” So many people have been lost because of Christians who feel compelled to tell it like it is. Commenting on a gift is very different than telling a friend what to do to be adopted into God’s family and remain a devoted child of God. Every detail of your thought does not have to be exposed when commenting on a gift. Instructing an inquiring eternal spirit about what God commands is a totally different situation.
Most of you are too young right now to realize what legalism means; but many well-meaning Christians are legalistic….binding on others what they believe is the only right way to behave or believe. These dear brothers and sisters have caused more havoc in the church than we care to think of.
On the other side of the issue are God’s absolutes. There can be no compromise with things which God has said must be like the requirements to enter God’s family, the need for moral purity, honesty and truth. We must cling to God’s truth and yet be as winsome as possible. Peter wrote to wives with some very good advice which really applies to all of us:
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” ….I Peter 3:1-4
Peter is not saying that braided hair and jewelry and nice clothes are sinful. He is saying we should not think our beauty, our real beauty, comes from these. True beauty is from within a person’s being. Isn’t God great! If outward beauty were so important some of us would never have a chance; but every person has the ability to have real beauty, the kind that God thinks is really worthwhile. THAT kind of beauty is what makes people take a second look at us and what makes us “tick.”
The society we live in today is so sick with sin (much as it has always been). It is oftentimes evil and ugly; and many people, we believe, understand there should be more to their sojourn on this earth than physical pleasure. They are seeking for answers anywhere they can find them. We have those answers in Jesus, and our lives must reflect His beauty in such a radiant way that those who come in contact with us will take another look.
We pray, dear grandchildren, you will be sweet children of God all the days of your lives. Satan will try to trip you up, to lead you from God’s way, to make you doubt His rightness; and if you are firm in the faith then Satan will want you to have a hard, judgmental attitude, to dabble in sin so that your witness will be voided in the eyes of those who know you. We pray you will drench yourselves in the Word of God. The Psalmist writes:
“How can a young man (or woman) keep his way pure? By living according to Your word. I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” …..Psalms 119:9-11
Speak Truth in Love
When you read the book of Jeremiah, and we hope you already have, you will find a life or death, eternal destiny situation going on. Jeremiah was one of God’s chosen spokesmen of the day, a prophet. God was angry with His chosen people and He sent Jeremiah to tell them that disaster, destruction and death were on their way because of their sin. If they did not do what God said, and do it quickly, they would feel God’s wrath and death was the ultimate end. There were other people speaking “for God” at the same time, people who had NOT been sent by God and had no respect for the truth. They had a very different message and proclaimed loud and clear that everything was “just fine.” “Jeremiah is lying and you can keep on living just as you are, nothing bad is going to happen.” Remember, Jeremiah was speaking for God, the others were not! We don’t know if they were trying to be kind and not cause ruffled feelings, or if they were just plain false teachers, which is just what God called them. Either way, there is nothing “compassionate” about trying to soften the message of God and His eternal truths. To speak truth in love, with a caring heart and patient attitude was modeled to us by Jesus. Oh, by the way, the people of Jeremiah’s day liked the message from the false teachers and listened to them….in due time everything Jeremiah said came true. Why would that surprise us, we cannot outsmart God.
Down through the ages since the beginning of time there have always been a multitude of people giving their own opinions about matters of the utmost importance, and a few stalwart souls who clung faithfully to God’s Word. We live in a time when many folk, well-known and trusted in matters of eternality, are speaking a “softened” message which does not match the message we find in the Bible. Which kind of person will each of you young people be? Critical and harsh or caring and compassionate? We pray you will study God’s Word and make it a part of your every moment.
“We have the mind of Christ.”….Apostle Paul I Corinthians 2:16
So, as you grow and mature and step into the adult world, we pray, dear grandchildren, you will be compassionate of life and speech. That you will be kind and thoughtful people, always keeping others well-being uppermost in your mind and heart and always listening to and obeying God’s words of life. Being compassionate does not just happen, it is a choice we make.