This is part three of a study on showing compassion to the unsaved. Part One can be found here and Part Two is here.
In previous parts of this study, I talked about the importance of compassion in our dealings with those who don't know Jesus. In this post, I'll share another reason why we Christians sometimes have trouble offering compassion and grace to the unsaved.
In addition to the "sense of superiority" mentality that I talked about in part two, we Christians struggle with thinking that a person who commits an offense "should have known better". When thinking about this part of the study, I was reminded of a lady that I saw in Albertsons recently. She had her two little girls with her and they were hanging out of the cart, singing, dancing...generally being obnoxious as she's trying to shop. It was evening so she'd probably had a long day and her kids were wound up and likely ready for dinner and bed. As I was bagging countless packages of meat to fill our freezer, I listened to and slyly watched her dealings with her kids. "Stop it! Stop it! How many times have I told you that?" All the while, she's looking at meat, checking her list, etc.---not once does she stop to look her child in the eye. "Since you can't mind, you can just go find some other family to live with. Go!" Her 4 or 5 year old little girl goes walking down the aisle away from the cart...
My first reaction was to think something along the lines of, "She should know better than to treat her kids that way. She's not even looking at them while she's spouting off all this nonsense. I would never treat my kids that way..." etc...
The verse that got me thinking of this woman was Proverbs 5:6: "She does not ponder the path of life; her ways are unstable, she does not know it." This is speaking of the immoral woman. Wow...she doesn't even realize that shes unstable! She doesn't take the time to ponder life's path. She doesn't even realize there's a better way---that money, weight loss, or a man cannot make it better.
Often times, people will make comments about our parenting style, how nice we look, our clean home, our intelligent conversation, etc. It can be hard not to get puffed up about that. We can take two directions in our thoughts about this woman---or in other similar scenarios:
Path 1: "She doesn't deserve those kids. If they were my kids I'd... Somebody needs to show her how to parent. I'm an excellent parent, I'd never treat my kids that way. Does this woman even love her kids? She should know better!"
Path 2: Pray. "Lord, please bless this mother with peace in her home and heart. Teach her about grace and put someone in her life to encourage her in her parenting and to lead her family to you. Give her a fresh start tonight and teach her that with just one soft-spoken word, one change in attitude, she can change the whole atmosphere of her home. Show her that this will lead to the behavior she wants to see from her children."
Another verse on this is Proverbs 4:19: "The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble." How do I respond to this? With compassion or with cynicism? Do I say, "Oh yeah right, surely they know what is making them stumble!"
Think about it: Why do the lost stumble? Maybe they didn't recognize the stumbling block as a bad thing in the first place. Maybe they didn't see it in the road because their eyes were focused elsewhere. Would their walk have been any better had they had a guide?
Isaiah 30:21 says: "Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, 'This is the way, walk in it', whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left." Wow! The unsaved don't have that voice of the Holy Spirit guiding them! Can you imagine? How sad for them. Do we have compassion for them? Do we have enough compassion to do something about it?
This article was published in Issue 51 of The Christian Home magazine.