Compassion is defined as sympathy for the suffering of others, often including a desire to help. Sympathy is defined as the feeling or expression of pity or sorrow for the pain or distress of somebody else. The love of God in manifestation is marked by compassion and sympathy and thus the willingness, when seeing a need, to get involved and help.
That which stifles compassion is hardness of heart and that which douses sympathy is selfishness. It is impossible to manifest compassion, sympathy or love if bitterness has hardened your heart or selfishness has warped your thinking. When our attitude toward the plight of another is one of apathy or finding excuses not to help; then we are firmly in the grip of that which renders us incapable of serving, helping or loving others.
Religious people are masters at going through the motions of looking good and appearing outwardly to be good and caring people. Religious good works look good, but looks can be deceiving. Far more people have been taken advantage of by sincere looking religious folks than by blatantly obnoxious worldly ones.
Five years ago, I was fairly close to a few men who were the leaders of their respective ministries. At the time I was devoting all my time and resources to finding help for those devastated by life s storms. Without exception I ended up dissolving the relationship I had with these men. Without exception, these very religious looking people were totally incapable of manifesting compassion or sympathy.
More than once I entered into a heated discussion with someone who by title was considered a minister . More than once I tried to show them what their title demanded they be a minister. Without fail, I was told that a minister never lowers himself to do the "dirty work" but rather must stay aloof so as to be respected. In each case I told the person I had NO respect for them because they were arrogant hypocrites.
If I had a dollar for every time one of these people would quote me the verse in Acts where Peter tells the lame man "silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I the..." Time and time again I was told that providing food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, counseling for the addicted, clothing for the naked and medical assistance for the sick is a waste of the Lord s money. Not once did I see these people ever go out and actually do anything for anyone. They just wanted to sit in their comfortable offices and teach their classes and preach their sermons.
I am sorry if I sound bitter for I am not. I am just dismayed at the apathy manifested by many "religious people" toward the plight of their brothers and sisters in Christ. When the bowels of compassion do not move when a need arises, then the resulting spiritual constipation makes for grouchy people whose attitude toward the needs of others is one of apathy and/or judgment.
I pray that we never become so wrapped up in our own problems, desires or needs that we turn a cold and hardened heart to those who have lost everything in life or are at their wit's end. I pray that we never become so arrogant as to think the ONLY thing we can do for someone is preach at them. I pray that we strive to manifest compassion as we sympathize and empathize with the plight of others.
As I read your blog, I thought about what the word "minister" actually means as opposed to what it has become in so many cases.
Merriam-Webster has this to say about the origin of the word:
[quote]Middle English ministre, from Anglo-French, from Latin minister servant; akin to Latin minor smaller
First Known Use: 14th century [/quote]
I knew about the servant part but I did not know it was akin to "minor" as well. Wow... that is something to think about.
Yes, the laity has been guilty of disrespecting their ministers. They have been guilty of arrogance, demanding that their ministers wait on them hand and foot, so to speak, refusing to help provide their needs or assist them in anyway. This is true. However I have also observed what you say to be true as well. I have seen ministers who do the same to the members. They are poor undershepherds who definitely are not true ministers. "Ministers" who will have to answer to God for their arrogance and mistreatment of the flock of God!