Compassion Alone Is Merely Sympathy

by Alan Stewart

When you think of India, what images come to mind? As children, we envisioned a happy young prince and princess floating along on a magic carpet. We stood wide-eyed in awe of a "rubber" man in the circus who bent as though he had no joints. We feared unrestrained tigers roaming the land.

Now, having just returned from my first-ever mission trip to India with AMG, I am amazed at the difference between my childhood images and those I brought home with me. Perhaps for the first time in my nineteen years of ministry, I can see what must have filled the eyes and heart of Jesus as He looked down at Jerusalem and wept. It does not take long to find your heart overwhelmed at the widespread poverty of India.

I never knew how wasteful we are in America until I saw those who literally sifted through the garbage of others just to survive. Moving deeper into India, my vocabulary became inadequate to describe the destructive force of disease in nearly every walk and aspect of life. The scenes etched on the canvas of my memory were the empty stares of utter hopelessness. Since then, I have had nightmares about children reaching out to me, begging for help. The suicide rates in India are off the scale. I can still hear the echoing voice of a young boy and girl saying to me, "There is no hope for us here."

Now, lest I leave you with the impression that this was a miserable experience, this truly was a spiritual landmark along my journey of life. I learned the value of a touch, whether it was a handshake, hug, or the laying on of our hands in prayer. I will never forget the tears of a leper who told me he had not been hugged in over twenty years. Touches that we take for granted everyday in America were as valuable as gold in India.

I learned the value of a smile. It was priceless to see what a smile meant to the children of India. They responded to a smile as though they had been given a million dollars. Maybe in a spiritual sense they had. A smile made them feel important, valuable, and loved. Their answering smiles were smiles of purity that held no expectations. I hope and pray that they may know that God has a special plan and place for them in His world.

After processing all these overwhelming images, I had to ask: "Just WHAT would Jesus do had He been there?" I struggled to understand why God exposed my eyes to such sights when my heart did not know what I could do to help. It was as though I was watching someone drown and I couldn't swim! However, as I took a closer look at the life of Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels, I think the answer is simply found in this statement about His life: "He had compassion on them."

In Matthew 14, Jesus had compassion on the multitude "and healed their sick." In Matthew 20, Jesus had compassion on the blind men "and touched their eyes." In Mark 1, Jesus had compassion on the leper "and touched him." In Mark 8, Jesus had compassion on the multitude and fed them. In Luke 7, Jesus had compassion on the widow of Nain and restored her son alive to her. In fact, every time Jesus was moved with compassion, His love moved Him to action.

The lesson is very clear: compassion without action is merely sympathy. Sympathy will not feed a hungry stomach or clothe a naked body. Sympathy will never doctor bad health or bind a wound. Sympathy says, "I'm glad that's not me." At best, sympathy is tears without substance.

When Jesus wept over Jerusalem, it was certainly a look of compassion. But, it was also a look of concern. He witnessed hurting and dying people, right in the midst of an indifferent, religious crowd. It has well been said, "the church of America can no longer say Silver and gold have we none,' but it could say, in the name of Jesus, rise and walk.'"

Plans are already under way for the third annual Hope For India National Conference in February, 2005. The focus of the conference this year is Back to Basics, with training centering on:

<![if !supportLists]>           <![endif]>Salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone

<![if !supportLists]>           <![endif]>Growing in faith through prayer, Bible study, giving, and sharing

<![if !supportLists]>           <![endif]>Discipleship-one-on-one mentoring

<![if !supportLists]>           <![endif]>Personal evangelism

<![if !supportLists]>           <![endif]>Faith

Every night during the evening services two speakers will share the message of salvation with the people. Please begin to pray for the people of India and the Hope for India Conference 2005.

One of the greatest truths that describe the heart and character of our God is the that fact He "... so loved the world, that He gave..." I pray the Lord will burden your heart to give to the "Hope of India."

Alan Stewart pastors Rechoboth Baptist Church

in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee

<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad