As you probably know, a compass is the direction-finding instrument typically used in navigation. A hiker, soldier, or sailor will use a compass to be sure he or she is headed in the right direction.
A compassion compass is the direction-finding instrument used by the Christian to find all those who are in need of Christlike compassion. This is the right direction for us.
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:35-36)
I’d like to emphasize three things about the way the compassion compass works:
1. It requires searching.
Jesus went through all the towns and villages. He did not wait for people to come to Him. He did not hang up a sign that said, “The Great Physician is in” and wait for customers to bang on His door. He was not stationary in His service to others! He went searching for those who needed what He alone could provide.
2. It requires seeing.
Jesus was other-oriented, which opened His eyes to see the crowds of harassed and helpless sheep who needed a Good Shepherd. He refused to do what so many do today: look away from those in need. Our English Bibles do not capture the full force of the Greek verb translated had compassion in Matthew 9:36, which means to feel deeply or viscerally. When Jesus saw the sick, the lost, and the hopeless, He felt an ache in the pit of His stomach! Compassion began to beat His heart and He yearned to help them. So He did!
3. It requires shepherding.
A shepherd cares for his sheep. He knows how defenseless they are, and he knows that if he does not care for them, they simply will not survive. He knows how helpless they are without a Helper.
Like Jesus, we are to search, see, and engage. Recall Jesus’ foretelling of His words at Final Judgment:
“The righteous will [ask Jesus], ‘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, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:37-40)
When we serve the harassed and helpless, we are serving our Lord!
So . . . how well is your compassion compass working these days? Remember what is required to keep it in top notch condition: searching for those who need to experience the healing grace of God in Christ; seeing their distress and resolving to take action; and shepherding them by meeting them at their point of need. And in a lost, broken, and hurting world, their greatest need is to hear of the One who died in their place so that they might have life in His name.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!