DAY FOUR | Offer Compassion
Welcome to Day Four of the Engage God Daily, “The Gift of Grace.” Each day this week we’ve been looking at five gifts of GRACE we can offer the mothers in our lives as we celebrate them this weekend for Mother’s Day. So far, we’ve looked at the gifts of Gratitude, Respect, and Acceptance. Today the fourth gift of grace we can offer is Compassion.
Today, we’ll revisit the book of Colossians. Paul wrote this letter to correct false teaching about Christ and Christian living that had infiltrated the church. In Col. 3:5–11, Paul exhorts his audience to take off the old self (our dead-to-sin, old-nature self) and gives instruction on how Christ-followers should live: put on the new-self in Christ. He continues this teaching in today’s text. 
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
What type of people does Paul say we are?
After we “take off” the old-self and its sinful behavior, what are we to do?
We are holy and dearly loved by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to “clothe” ourselves with the virtues of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness, all of which are bound together by love. Through our obedience, we build bridges with fellow believers and unbelievers alike. There are many Christlike virtues we’re to put on and live out in relationships, but let’s look closely at compassion.
According to the dictionary, compassion is a “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” In the first century, compassion was associated with “the inward parts of the body,” or bowels, where the seat of emotion was believed to exist. In our text for today, it means “tender sympathy of heartfelt compassion” Compassion is a virtue that we mothers dispense in generous amounts on a regular, if not daily, basis. Today we’ll consider compassion as it relates to our own mothers, mother-in-laws, or other caretakers.
In our home, I’m the push-over, easily swayed by tears and smashed dreams. The kids, and even the dogs, have always known this about me and would visit me first if they needed anything in the middle of the night. So when our first mammal-pet (Cuddles, the gerbil) died, all four stampeded down the stairs nearly running over my husband on their way to find me. It was as if he were a patch of fog on a dip in the road. He showed up in the doorway of our bedroom with a puzzled look on his face as the four wailing children piled on top of me where I sat. In that situation, only mom’s compassion helped with the loss.
Think back to one or more instances when your mother was there for you and showed you compassion. What instance stands out in your memory?
It’s easy to think of moms giving compassion, but how often do we think to give compassion to the moms in our lives? It can be easy to forget that, like all human beings, we moms are finite beings with limited resources. Some of us moms can feel pressure, either self-imposed or expected by others, to be always available to everyone in the family and still have a productive day. For some of us, there lurks a “phantom-mom” who can be everything to everyone, and she haunts our mom-hearts and distorts God’s expectations of us moms. The reality is we are limited beings who are forever learning on the job. This truth can crash in around us leaving some of us feeling inadequate, like a four year-old who rides a bike with training wheels but is disappointed in herself that she’s not zipping around on a 10-speed bike.
Culture says we can have it all and be it all, but that’s a lie counter to God’s truth! Only God can be available all the time. We moms cannot. At the end of the day, most of us mothers are doing the best we can in spite of our own brokenness and weaknesses. Not only do moms need grace, sometimes moms need compassion too.
- When was the last time you “stood in the shoes” of your mother or mother-in-law? What were the circumstances?
- How did extending compassion impact your perception of and relationship with her?
 William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 938.