Have you ever seen anyone in a lot of pain? It is worse if it is someone you know and love. It can be difficult to know what to do. Love should motivate us to want to do something for that person. Men often find it really difficult watching their wives in so much pain when they are in labor and there is nothing they can do. 


A definition of compassion is “to suffer together,” to see another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve their suffering. 


Just before today’s reading, the people of God were being called out by God for pretending to do the right thing. They have been fasting for God each year for 70 years but He asked them in verse 5, “Was it really for me?” In this context, these verses of instruction come to God’s people. There are 3 things God told them to do in verse 9:


  1. Exercise true judgment. This covers so much, from knowing what is right and wrong, as well as living wisely, considering in each circumstance the wisest course of action.
  2. Show brotherhood. You are all part of the family of God, so love each other.
  3. Show compassion. Be motivated to help relieve the suffering of others.


Jesus was often described as having compassion, especially with those who were sick. He was moved to heal their diseases and even bring people back to life. At one point, Jesus looked at the crowd with compassion, saying they were like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). In John, Jesus described Himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:10–11), which we know He did on the cross.   


We live in a world where we see a lot of bad news. We can feel overwhelmed with so much pain in the world. This may even lead us to becoming hardened. Sadly, God’s people often “refused to pay attention, turning away stubbornly . . . they made their hearts as hard as diamond.” (Zechariah 7:11–12).


While there are times when it is wise to step away from watching the news because there is just so much going on that it makes us feel heavy, it can also help motivate us to action, helping others both near us and further away.


There are lots of great charities doing fantastic work. I recommend if you are thinking of giving to a charity, to check them out, see what they do, how they do it, how they spend their money. Exercise true judgment! If you are happy, then give what the Lord has laid on your heart.


But money isn’t the only way to help. You can also spend time walking through difficult days with others. It might mean sharing a meal and inviting them into the mess of our lives, too.


There may also be places you can volunteer. The churches in our town set up a foodbank to help those unable to provide the basic need of food for themselves and their families. This shows God’s love in a really practical way.


We are challenged about this in 1 John 3:17

But whoever has the world’s possessions and sees his fellow Christian in need and shuts off his compassion against him, how can the love of God reside in such a person?


Take some time to pray and ask God to help you to be wise and compassionate. Ask Him to bring to your mind needs of others that you already know about. Think through what you can wisely and compassionately do to help. Ask God to help you learn more about people around you and in other countries who need help, like missions organizations who help the persecuted church or a non-profit that helps rescue women and girls from sex-trafficking. 


When we are open to the ways God will use us to meet the needs of others, we will see Him graciously provide for us and use us to advance His kingdom in ways we never thought possible. 



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Julie McIlhatton

Julie McIlhatton

Julie McIlhatton lives in the beautiful Northern Ireland with her lovely husband and two fantastic boys. She is blessed to be able to be a stay at home mum and be involved in different ministries at her church. In her free time she likes to watch movies, play board games, and go for walks (when it’s not raining!). She enjoys listening to music of various kinds and is amazed at how much easier the right music makes mundane tasks, like cleaning. She is acutely aware of God’s undeserved love and grace lavished on her. In response, she seeks to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.

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