Recently my dear friend, Carrie, and her family lost their dog unexpectedly. Through Facebook I saw the happiness when Elmer joined their family a few short years ago. Carrie would share pictures of Elmer taking part in family fun, and show us Elmer in his daily life. When I see pictures of Carrie and Elmer together, there is joy on her face seen through the light in her eyes. I enjoyed seeing Elmer with his family and especially with Carrie.
As Carrie shared her heart’s hurt the other morning, my heart hurt for her also. My friend was unhappy and my reaction that morning was just as scripture teaches in Galatians 6:2:
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
In context, this particular verse directs us to share the burden when a friend is living in sin. But there are numerous scriptures that teach us to love as Christ loved. Another verse tells us that a “friend loves at all times,” not just when we agree with them. The other morning I actually had tears in my eyes, and my heart was heavy for Carrie. Now, that may sound normal to you, but my family and close friends will understand.
I am not a pet person. Yes, we allowed our children to have a pet on occasion, but I soon tired of cleaning up after five children and a pet. They never lasted long in our home…the pet that is. Losing a pet never bothered me. Would you believe it, every one of our children now has at least one pet in their home!
However, Sunday morning, when Carrie was sharing her heart, God opened up my heart to her. I can still feel her sadness, and I pray for her and her family at this time of loss. Do I understand their connection to “a dog”? No. But that does not mean I am not capable of having compassion for them in their time of grief.
As I think about others who come into my life I know that many do not share the same beliefs, convictions and points of view that I have. However, I am to love them unconditionally. I don’t need to agree with them on everything, but I do need to love and care for them. It should not matter who they are, where they live, where they were born, the color of their skin, or what they believe. I am to love them and treat them with kindness.
The following verse has become very important to me over the past year. I have written it out here as I have prayed it for our pastors and many missionary friends over the last many months. (The words in italics are those I have adapted for my prayer)
Lord, help them to "devote themselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And I pray ... that God may open a door for their message, so that they may proclaim the mystery of Christ, ... I Pray that they may proclaim it clearly, as they should. May they Be wise in the way they act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let their conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that they may know how to answer everyone. Col 4:2-6
That’s a tall order! So in review, here is how I am to show compassion and love even to those I don’t agree with:
My compassion for pet owners and pets grew very unexpectedly this week. It is God’s intent that my compassion is to grow even more for others, no matter who they are.
How will they be drawn to the love of Christ if I am not an example of His undeserved, unconditional and unfailing love?
Please go to the following broadcast from Focus on the Family to read a powerful testimony of compassion by Linda Seiler. I listened to this broadcast after I wrote the above article.
Debi Snider... more