Compassion First

“My compassion protects my joy.”

That was my affirmation for the day. It was a nice thought until I had to deal with a lady I perceived was being rude, and then all compassion and joy went out the door as I vented my frustrations upon this government worker. In my mind, she became the barrier to hindering me from accomplishing a very important task that day. And maybe she was the barrier. Maybe if I would’ve gotten a different clerk they would have been more compassionate or understanding about my situation. Who knows. What I do know is that I am disstraught that I allowed my own lack of compassion for her to steal my joy. Even more daunting is that I lost an opportunity to influence her and everyone else in that office in a positive way since I’m sure everyone heard my words of irritation and saw me storm out the door in my anger. 

In that moment I became just like every other person this lady had to deal with every day that took their frustrations out on her. If you heard the full story you may think my actions were justified, and I could justify them in my own mind if I allowed myself. On the other hand, I could have really taken advantage of this aggravating situation if I had only looked beyond my own agenda and saw her as an individual with feelings, a family to support, and a soul to save. This is why I will not let myself off the hook on this. I know in my heart that my intentions were selfish and inconsiderate of her regardless of how she was treating me. I did not plant the seeds of love that would have promoted joy for both of us that day.

There are times in our life where it’s appropriate to make blatant, bold statements against things that are evil, unfair, or unjust, but we need to be choosy about those moments and the influence they will have on others. To do this, I am working diligently to make it my habit to lead with compassion first. This means in circumstances of perceived offense where initial safety and virtue aren’t being threatened, I will give people the benefit of the doubt and treat them in the same manner I would want to be treated while remembering my own weaknesses. After this primary reaction of empathy, I can then decide if I want to evaluate the situation further, and take additional action based upon confirmed facts only if my intentions are noble.

We are all people with feelings, agendas, and souls scarred by sin. How much more joy would we experience in our lives if we habitually recognized this and led with compassion? How much more joy would we give to others around us? Yes, people do have evil intentions without regret in the way they treat others, and it is heartbreaking if we find this out. However, without really knowing the true intentions of someone’s heart, we can decide to control the assumptions we make and the stories we tell ourselves to mold the perspectives that will influence how we treat people. Practicing compassion through sympathetic, considerate thoughts and actions is a tool to train us in loving souls as Christ does. By unselfishly looking out for the best interest of others in this way, we can protect the joy in our heart as we let go of our ineffective rants of frustration by replacing them with compassion first.

I am grateful that You are compassionate of my faults, my merciful Lord. Forgive me when I do not bestow this same compassion upon others and squander the opportunities I am given to show love. I understand it’s okay for me to be frustrated and angry, but I need to use these moments wisely. Teach me to be discerning in using these emotions in a godly manner as Your Son did. Teach me to love as Christ with compassion that draws others to You and promotes joy within the heart. Through Him is all compassion and joy, amen.

Truth in love,

Scripture references:

Romans 12:14-21, 1 Peter 3:8-9, Matt. 18:21-35, Matt. 7:12, 1 Cor. 13:4-7, Phil. 2:3-4

Book Reference:

Day 21 in 40 Days to a Joy-filled Life by Tommy Newberry

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