Selective Compassion

If someone died from a DUI, suicide, drug overdose, or death sentence, do you have compassion for the individual or family affected by that loss? Often I find that we don’t. We compartmentalize “death” or grieving for that matter. We’ve unknowing placed in two categorize what we should extend compassion towards and what we should spit on. I call this, selective compassion.

I was in elementary school when I first encountered the messy side of compassion. A classmate of mine committed suicide. I remember when I first found out he had died, it shocked my entire class. Many cried and others simply lost for words. When we found out how he died, the atmosphere shifted. It seemed that grieving was no longer necessary and the compassion that was initially there instantaneously evaporated as judgment took place.

We have selective compassion. We will grieve with those who are hurting if it fits our definition where compassion is necessary. Rather than having compassion over those who die from DUI, suicide, drug overdoes, or even the death sentence, we spit on them with our words and calloused hearts. We say things like “well they asked for it,” “that’s what they get,” “good riddance,” and the list goes on. We’ve said to ourselves that their lives don’t matter and their hurting families just the same. While in most cases, it was their lifestyle choices that led them to their demise, it doesn’t remove the urgency for compassion. It doesn’t remove the reality that their lives and the life of their family matter. It doesn’t remove the obligation we have as Christians to love no matter the circumstances. Compassion should never be selective.

Christians are the biggest hypocrites when it comes to showing compassion. We expect to see the Kingdom of God grow however, we reserve compassion for those who we say are good and suffering. On the other hand, we rejoice or are not even phased when someone who sinned or lived in sin suffers or dies. We are quick to cast judgment and in our judgment, we’ve played the role of god determining who deserves compassion and who doesn’t.

In Luke 10:30-35, we read the story of the Good Samaritan. If you aren’t familiar with the parable, here you go:

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him...

We aren’t really told much about the man who got robbed. We aren’t told if he was an alcoholic, rapist, or killer. We aren’t told if he was a man of high status or wealth. We aren’t even told of his skin color. We are simply told, he was coming from Jerico, was robbed, stripped, and beaten. We see that neither the priest nor the Levite helped the man from Jericho. You would think that of anyone who should help and have some form of compassion, it would be one of those men. But they didn’t. Matter-a-fact, they chose to walk on the other side of the road ignoring the man in need. They had no compassion yet called themselves men of God. The most unlikely person, a Samaritan who people were not entirely fond of back then, was the one that helped. The [Good] Samaritan did not require an explanation to extend compassion. He didn’t need first to hear the man from Jerico’s story or find out who he was before showing kindness. He simply saw someone in need and was moved with compassion.

In the New Testament, you will find that before Jesus performed miracles He was moved by compassion. Compassion [Kindess] is the catalyst for changed lives. But we’ve missed it. We say we want all to come to know Christ, only if they fit our image of who belongs in Heaven. We walk around patting ourselves on the back. We praise how great we are as Christians, yet we neglect to see the plank in our eyes as we judge the speck in others.

Am I saying that compassion translates to agreeing with the lifestyle choices and decisions of others? No. Absolutely not. What I am saying is that you and I are called to have compassion towards the beggar, the bruised, broken, divorced, suicidal, addict, criminal, and the like. Why compassion? Because in compassion, we remove any grounds of judgment. In compassion, we translate the gospel message that all needs hope. In compassion, is where the catalyst for changed hearts becomes accessible.

Compassion doesn’t agree with the sin or wrong done. Compassion says you are still loved despite the wrong you’ve done. Compassion doesn’t remove the consequences that come with sin. Rather, compassion says in the consequences your life is not over, there is still hope. Compassion is simply and magnificently the heart of God.


I’m right. You’re wrong.

We live in an era where “rightness” is sought after. We irrationally condemn those who think differently than we do. The age of accusation has extended to violence on all levels. Social media in particular, has become the platform used to display violence of language in order to defend our narrative of “rightness.” We want to prove a point, and ultimately, it’s our point that we want to prove. I’m right and you are wrong. That’s it. At least that’s what those of us with the attitude of “rightness” would like to believe.

The issue with this generation is that we’ve lost responsibility of a key part of communication. We have failed to, listen. Listening to those who think differently or live differently than we do has been replaced with combative remarks. I’ve fallen trap of this time and time again. Especially being one who has very low tolerance for the inconsistency in the Christian faith, I have caught myself immediately wanting to speak rather than, listen. After making a fool of myself on numerous occasions, I’ve learned to step back, listen, listen again, and maybe even listen some more, before I respond and often a response I’ve found is not necessary.

We don’t hate injustice. Rather, we thrive on the idea of being shared, retweeted and quoted. Our “rightness” has become a means to be “liked” so we choose a side and run with it. We’ve lost the meaning of compassion and responsibility. Responsibility today looks differently. Rather than taking the time to listen and do, we’ve shifted responsibility to making others aware by sharing a story, post or tweet. No longer do we do. We hide behind a screen and scream how right we are and how awful wrong others are in full circle to no end, no change, and just like that life goes on.

The attitude of “rightness” stems from pride. Prideful to admit we are wrong. Prideful to ask for help. Prideful to admit our narrative is simply a means to justify a choice rather than truth and facts. Pride I’ve seen being praised and encouraged by all, myself included, no matter how hurtful words are, how painful actions are and how degradingly wrong the truth we are convincing others to believe is. Pride has become the folly of man. This is no surprise. This very same pride has been the issue seen throughout time eating at the core of mankind making history only a new version of its old self.

James, the writer of the Book of James in the New Testament writes in Chapter 1,

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. [19-25]

In those specific verses, James addresses the importance of taming the tongue, choosing humility and the nature of true faith. Christians especially who proclaim and declare they are followers of Christ need not walk by verbal faith alone. Likewise, mental faith is insufficient. Listening and doing, genuine faith, inspires and empowers godly action. Not violence of the tongue and flesh. Godly action that ignites truth. The idea of being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry is not mere “Christian Principles.” These three key components are vital for growth.

Listening brings understanding, speaking produces clarity and doing allows for change. Change that many say they desire, but lack the motivation to seek. We are stuck in speaking and have chosen the route of selective compassion in listening only to that which fits and suites our way of thinking and living. We have become unaware that we live in moral filth and anger foolishly and blindly deceiving those around us by what we believe. Selective compassion is the new Christianity, pushing only what supports our narrative and dismissing other principles in the Christian faith, negating to speak on other sins because we know very well we are struggling with it and are to prideful to admit it.

Do you, like me, struggle with “rightness?” Maybe you do and maybe you don’t. Either way, I want to encourage you to listen, then speak, and then do. I grew up hearing the acronym “WWJD.” It stands for, What Would Jesus Do. Sadly, overtime, this acronym has become a “simple” Christian slogan. WWJD is the premise of the verses highlighted above. As Christians who strive to live out the gospel message of love, the heart of “rightness” is replaced with humility. That is what Jesus would do. While we see in the New Testament Jesus was not ashamed to stand up for truth and righteousness, His faith walk was never one of verbal and physical violence degrading in abuse those who think differently than we do. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus was pretty savage in his response to those who followed only to criticize and prove their rightness, but He never lacked unconditional compassion.

I’m right and you’re wrong is not the heart of God. No matter how right you believe you are (and you may be 100% right in what you believe or are proving), the attitude of “rightness” is not the heart of God. Selective compassion is not the heart of God. Consistency in the Christian faith brings effective change and this can only occur when we choose first to listen. Listening brings understanding, speaking produces clarity and doing allows for change. Quit mindlessly talking. You’ll find you really don’t know it all. Don’t be quick to share and respond. You’ll find what you’re sharing maybe really wasn’t truth to begin with it, rather it just sounded like truth. Bottom line, the heart of God, for those of us who say with our lips we are Christ followers is more than merely lip service. The heart of God combines both faith and works in His word to produce the the character traits of listening, speaking and doing, in love.

Think you are always right? Why do you think that? What narrative are you pushing? Be careful. You might just be pushing people away from God.