All we see all over the news anymore are hurting people who are in need of compassion. There is so much hurting and aching going on. Whether it’s on a grand or small scale, there is no shortage of people who need to experience love and compassion. From the international terrorist attacks to the domestic concerns over justice and racial inequality, we are dealing with things we naively thought would have ended by now. However far we have come, we still have much further to go.
I recently did a devotion at work on compassion. We’ve been exploring it the past couple weeks and we talked about having compassion on others and the ultimate compassion Christ has for us. As it says in Matthew 22:39, Christians are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. We regularly talk about loving others and having compassion on others, but I got to thinking: How does that translate if I don’t accept Christ’s compassion for me, or if I don’t really love and have compassion on myself?
We can act like we really have compassion and go through the motions while not really having compassion on others. Are we truly treating them as we yearn to be treated? Are we just paying them lip service, or do we sincerely see them for who they are in Christ? Do we see them as Christ sees them? In order for us to truly show compassion and love to one another, we have to truly accept that same compassion from Him. We are only giving a portion of the love and compassion that we can if we have not fully accepted it ourselves.
It’s not a selfish thing to examine how you think about and see yourself. It’s a necessary thing. You have to come to terms with God and you must believe that He has created you in His image. You are worthy, loved, and bear His image. This is true of everyone, no matter how different they may be from you. They are just as worthy of love and compassion as you are. Sometimes it’s easier for us to show compassion to others over ourselves, as it feels selfish to be so introspective. In order for us to truly show compassion and see others as Christ sees them, we have to come to terms with that in ourselves.
I am a perfectionist and beat myself up over everything. I get frustrated if things don’t go how I want them to go. I get down and discouraged with myself when bad things happen to me. I have given up on things more often than I would like to admit. I have failed to ask for help or accepted help when I needed it; partly out of pride, but also because I hadn’t fully accepted the love and compassion of Jesus has offered me. It’s a tough thing for me to accept and something that I am learning to grow through.
There are some very practical and obvious ways to show compassion to others, and I am not negating those by any means. They are important. Jesus was compassionate to everyone he met. We should be compassionate too. But we need to accept Christ’s compassion and reflect that onto ourselves. We need to see who we are in Christ. We need to love ourselves in order to truly love our neighbors and see them as Christ sees them. This way we can see everyone for the image bearers that they truly are. If we can’t love ourselves and forgive ourselves, how are we really able to do the same for others?