8 Min Read

Start With Compassion

Published on

February 19, 2024

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, to start with compassion, not judgment.

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Ayoung man standing afar off on a street noticed an older man walk past him. For no apparent reason, his attention was fixed on the man and he kept watching as the older man straddled with an imperfect balance along the street. He realized the older man was walking towards a ditch but thought to himself, surely, this man either wanted to dispose of refuse or ease himself, he hastily concluded that the older man had an intent and a purpose for heading towards the ditch. As the older man got closer to the ditch, the young man watched in horror as the man fell in.

The young man quickly went to the older man’s aid, but instead of offering help, he scolded the older man for being careless and making a fool of himself. He said, “Sir, you should have watched where you were going, you just embarrassed and made a mockery of yourself, surely if you were drunk, you should have stayed at the parlor until you were a bit sober, now look at you, you are quite a mess”.

However, there was another woman nearby, who saw the older man walking earlier from her balcony. She motioned swiftly to lock her door and called her gateman to please open the gate. The guy dragged his feet a bit, but she stepped out of the gate and hurried towards the old man.

Her first phrase to him was “Sir, where is your stick? Don’t you have a helper, I’m sorry this happened to you”. Of course, the young man looked at the lady, surprised at her reaction. The older man motioned for both of them to help him whilst uttering three simple words — “I am blind”.

Photo by hesam Link on Unsplash

Several scriptures reference the non-judgmental response of Jesus to sinners. Take the woman caught in adultery for example, she was caught in the act of adultery, meaning she was already betrothed to one and lying with another. While the Pharisees were ready to condemn and stone her, content with allowing her to die a sinner and creating no opportunity for repentance; Jesus, the Judge of all, said “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more”. We see a similar disposition towards Zacchaeus, the tax collector, Mary Magdalene, the prostitute, and the Thief on the right side of Jesus.

Jesus was and is known as a friend of sinners in scripture because the first thing he offers them is compassion in a world where the first servings they receive are rejection and stark condemnation. Jesus’ disposition towards them is so because he understands that they are blind. His friendship with sinners does not imply that he condoned their immoral behavior. He never went against the Torah or promoted lewdness, as that would have been counterproductive to his mission. His purpose was to fulfill the law, not abolish it.

You also realize a common thread across this class of sinners, they yearned for Jesus. While wallowing in their mire, their souls were thirsty for what they couldn’t quite comprehend, they were sinners in search of salvation, not sinners content with damnation. There IS a difference. Like the older man, these sinners though blind, stretched their hands out for help.

Jesus recognizes this difference and prepares for them an invitation in compassion and does not shut the door to them in condemnation. He understood that these sinners acted the way they did because they were ignorant and lacked the knowledge of truth and forgiveness.

Photo by TopSphere Media on Unsplash

Upon reflection, I came to understand that Jesus approached sinners differently from the Pharisees. Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus viewed every sinner as an innocent child seeking reconciliation until proven guilty. By “guilty”, I mean those who refuse to repent and reject salvation, like a pig that is blind to the value of pearls and content with rolling in mud.

The Pharisees, on the other hand, considered every sinner guilty and rarely gave them the benefit of the doubt. They labeled them forever by their sins. Jesus comes first with open arms, but a pharisaic disposition starts with the rod of judgment that unduly drives away even a repentant child.

For every child that came to him, he said to the disciples, do not turn them away by your pharisaic disposition and condemnation! We see that sometimes the problem is not always with the sinner but with the lens through which we see them. A judgmental disposition blinds us to their blindness and shuts them out of salvation.

However, I’m sure one would ask where we draw the balance. The response of the young man in our story would be apt if two things happened.

Instance A, if the older man had knowingly and willingly walked, deviating from the straight path and fallen into a ditch, or Instance B, if the older man was blind and in a ditch, but instead of stretching his hands for help, insulted these two young ones for coming to his aid, albeit with different approaches.

In the first instance, we see Jesus’ constant rebuke and John’s caustic condemnation of the Pharisees, because they can see; and as custodians of the Torah, they willingly take the grace of God for granted and relish trampling upon God’s precious covenants, like pigs. In the second instance, we see the unrepentant thief on the left-hand side of the cross, mocking the Son of God and ready to serve his time in hell.

Having established that a sinner, whether unbelieving or believing, has no thirst and appetite for repentance because of their contentment with living a life of sin; the disposition is a rod and a whip, driving them away from the gates of salvation lest they draw away the tender-hearted.

As you start this week, I encourage you, as Paul did to the Phillipian church that let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5), to start with compassion, not judgment. Be like the young woman who saw the older man from afar and prepared to run towards him because she first believed he was blind and needed help.

I pray the Holy Spirit floods our hearts with virtues of kindness and compassion rooted deep in the soil of empathy and love. Amen.

Have a blessed week! For His glory and renown,

– Olayinka Adebayo
Twitter (X)/IG: @layinkadebayo

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