WALK BY FAITH DEVOTIONAL – 4/22
Boxes. Lots of boxes. All sizes. Big boxes. Little ones. Huge ones. Stacks of boxes. Some boxes over there. Some lone to the side. Mountains of boxes. Hills too. Moving boxes. Old boxes. New ones. Passed-around boxes. Endless boxes. Grocery store boxes. Shipped boxes. Never-been-shipped ones. Boxes with tracking numbers. Countless boxes. Boxes of compassion. Empty boxes. Filled boxes. Jammed-packed boxes. Poorly packed ones. Waiting boxes. So many boxes. Boxes of compassion. Compassion that so often stays where it is comfortable, safe, secure, familiar. Anyone ever heard of out-of-the-box compassion? Me neither. The words came to me after a story a friend shared with me today.
She witnessed a woman in a medical office greatly distraught, incredibly emotional. And she watched the office workers watch her as they stood in their places, standing in their positions, remaining in their locations, their compassion in unpacked boxes. The hurting woman left the office, untouched by the little office world around her. For the office workers stayed where they belonged, where they worked, where they knew they were supposed to be – with boxes intact, unopened, unused, undistributed. Boxes?
Yes, boxes. Boxes of compassion unused. For like so much of our world, they had learned protocols, rules and regulations, standards, practices, ways of doing things, ways of not doing things, how to do this, and how to not do that, training, training, this-is-how-to-do-it. Compassion in boxes, for what does the office manual say about compassion? What. How. When. Where. Why? Why compassion?
My friend knows. She left the office with it. Such great compassion. She has prayed for the woman ever since. She hurts over the woman’s grief, and she hurts over the lack of compassion. But who said the office workers had no compassion? I am sure they did. I can almost bet on it. But I can also bet on this, too. Their compassion was stuck in boxes. Places, times, and ways, to give compassion. To whom. For what reason. What outcome? After all, compassion is only to be used under the careful direction and supervision of – of? Of what? Of whom? Of the world? Of politics? Of how everyone else does compassion?
Or, of how the Lord calls us to use compassion? Of how He calls us to have mercy? Of how He calls us to forgive? Of how He calls us to love and to serve Him, and others? Of how He calls us to wash each other’s feet, no matter how dirty they are? Of how HE calls us to comfort others? Of how He leads us? Of how He calls us to distribute the love He gives us?
Or, is compassion to remain in boxes to be used at our own discretion – when we see fit, when we desire, when we feel like it, when we feel it will look and sound and taste good? Or, of how we won’t get in trouble for breaking the rules of humans to live our lives for God?
I recently ran into a man who years ago gave me a “lovingly” hard time for finding me stopped on the side of the road – yet again – to help someone who had a car wreck. He was “concerned” about me. He was concerned about my “extremes”. I couldn’t help myself. I can’t help myself. I have a tendency to just “land places.” I seem to just arrive in people’s lives, at critical times. And I can’t hold it in. I can’t hold HIM in. I can’t hold His love in – not even when I try. It virtually always, ultimately, comes tumbling out – even if it happens afterward because the Lord convicts me of where I fell short. My compassion should come tumbling out. HE should. He should not remain inside me to hoard to myself. The Lord should overflow from me into the world around.
You know what I told the man recently? “There was nothing wrong with what I was doing back then in terms of stopping to help people. The problem was I had nothing to give. Because I didn’t have Jesus. Now I have the Lord to give, and I’m in full-time ministry. And I still stop to help [as best as I am able to be led by the Lord].”
I am not sure whether or not he understood. But it doesn’t matter. Because compassion isn’t about someone else understanding. It’s not about the rules, the regulations, the standard, or any other aspect of how the world does stuff. No, compassion wasn’t designed to stay in boxes where we feel safe and secure. Why is it that we are so prone to stand in our positions, watching a world in dire need, wondering why nobody ELSE will help, when we have our own job to do?
Ever moved into a new home and taken “forever” to unpack your boxes? Let me ask you a question. Where is your compassion? Is it still in boxes? Do you use it for your kids, but not somebody else’s? Do you use it for friends, but not strangers? Or, do you use it for strangers and not friends because it feels “safer” that way. Do you use it only when you’re wide awake and in the mood? Do you even know you have it? Or do you not have it at all?
I’m not talking about worldly, human, limited compassion. I am speaking of God’s compassion, His heart in you, His life in you – and His life THROUGH you? Do you have Jesus Christ living inside of you? Do you have HIS compassion in you? Do you know it is not just for you? Do you know it is not to be kept in boxes?
How do you feel when you finally unpack your boxes in your new home? Happy? Content? Satisfied? Probably exhausted, yes. And do you know something. Compassion comes with a price. Yes, it feels great to give it. But it’s also tiring, exhausting even. It might mean staying up three extra hours to help someone. It might mean giving up awesome plans to help someone in need.
It might even mean stepping out from behind the counter at work to reach out and give someone a HUG, a few kind words, maybe a prayer. Maybe, even maybe, it might mean stepping out, away from the mountain of boxes, and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone who needs Him. It might even mean encouraging someone to have a RELATIONSHIP with the Lord – not to just have met Him once a long time ago at a random church service somebody dragged him to.
How many of us have our attics, our basements, our garages stuffed with unopened, unused boxes? Worse yet, how many of us have storage units miles away from home where we have hauled off our boxes to never be seen of again – except when the monthly bill comes to remind us. To remind us of what?
You are paying a high price for not unpacking your boxes, and for not using what is inside them. And you are paying a high price for looking to the world to teach you how to use compassion. And you are paying a high price if you are too afraid to be compassionate because you could lose a job, lose a friend, lose a few hours of doing something for yourself.
Do you think God gives us compassion to stay in boxes?
Or, do you think He might be calling us – US – to unpack our boxes and get our acts together.
Perhaps it’s high time for some out-of-the-box compassion. His compassion. His compassion in us. His compassion through us. His compassion, out of the box, to be used for HIS GLORY.
2Co 1:2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
2Co 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
2Co 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
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