Have you ever seen the homeless traveller on the roadside with his cardboard plea for assistance?  Many thoughts cross our mind as we make a choice to assist or not.  Some may wonder if he could be a con artist who is creatively making money from the gullible, or perhaps he is a killer…  Or perhaps he is someone who has met unfortunate times and has struggled to find his way back.  Either way, many people have either sympathy or compassion for the individual.  Did you know there’s a difference between the two?

Sympathy would indicate that you feel unhappy for the circumstances surrounding the traveller, but it stops there.  Compassion puts the feelings into action.  With compassion, you may reach out to the traveller, offering him food, drink, or even a warm place to sleep for the night.  Sympathy has its merits, but does little to help those who cannot help themselves.

Proverbs 19:17
New International Version (NIV)

17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, 
    and he will reward them for what they have done.

There are countless opportunities around us at all times the lend a hand to the down-trodden.  Some of us have been in a similar position as the traveller as some point or another.  We may have very well pulled ourselves out with no assistance from others, but it does the soul good to have a hand from someone unexpectedly.

Jesus displayed ultimate compassion for us all with his death on the cross.  We could have been bound to our sins, but because of His stripes and the pouring of His blood, we have another chance.  That’s what compassion is all about.

Questions to ask yourself…

  1. Do you know of someone who could use compassion, but may be afraid to ask because of the fear of rejection?
  2. Have you ever needed compassion yourself, but were afraid to ask for perhaps the same reason?
  3. Do you actively participate in activities to help those who are unable to help themselves?