This week's memory verse:
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, and patience." Colossians 3:12
The picture here is the last real "family picture" we had taken before my father died, about a year and a half later. Today's message made me think of my dad.
The word compassion comes from two Latin words, "com" and "pati." Com means "together" while pati means "to suffer." That means a compassionate person is one who suffers alongside another. Some synonyms for compassion include benevolence, charity, empathy, grace, kindness, mercy, and tenderness.I had a wonderful father. He was a good example to me of what a father's love is like. He was stern with me, guiding me to learn hard work, responsibility, and teaching me right from wrong. He loved me unconditionally, and I knew that. He displayed his love for me in many visible ways, from hugging me, talking with me and showing me in the way he cared for me and the rest of my family. He also showed me how to have compassion for others. My dad would do about anything for anybody. He was always fixing something for someone, or talking with someone about their troubles...just listening. (wonder where I get that...) He worked hard and even showed compassion to the animals he raised. He wasn't perfect...he had a lot of faults...but he was also able to love others despite their faults as well. My dad taught me (along with my mom) that I could do anything I put my mind to. The lessons I learned from my dad have helped to make me the person I am today, even though he has been gone for nearly half my life.
When I read in the Bible that God loves us and shows compassion to us like a father, I realize I am lucky enough to have had an excellent example of how a father loves his children. If God loves me even more than my earthly father than I must be really loved! Psalm 103:8-18 describes God as a loving father.
Verse 8: The lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.
(My dad was NOT slow to anger! He could blow up at you so quick and really let you have it...but I always knew that it would be short-lived. He would be back to his old self in the very next second, explaining why he yelled in the first place)
Verse 9 says God doesn't endlessly nag and scold us or hold grudges against us forever...He gives us free will to do what is right and lets us learn from our own mistakes. Thinking as a parent, I imagine seeing his children continually make bad choices and mistakes is hard for God. (I know it's hard for me.) But God knows that nagging never works...and so he lets us mess up, but doesn't stay mad at us.
Speaking of mistakes....verses 11-12 talk about how much God loves us...as high as the heavens are above the earth and as far as east is from the west. (Ever tell your child "I love you THIS much!) AND...the BEST part...God's love is boundless AND he removes our sin from us!Just as my dad taught me what is right and wrong to protect me, God wants us to obey His commands so we are protected from ourselves. God guides us on how to live...what to do and what not to do...so we KNOW how to live a sinless life and KNOW how to protect ourselves from the perils of our sin. BUT God knows we are going to mess up. God knows that because he created us. He could have created us perfect...he could have made us ALWAYS obey him and ALWAYS make the right choices. God is THAT powerful and creative. But, then our love and obedience wouldn't mean as much to him because, like robots, the love and obedience would come FROM our creator and not from us.
James 1:17 says that all good gifts come from God in heaven and God doesn't change. There is nothing deceitful or two faced in God...he isn't fickle. This gives me comfort because I know that I can TRUST my heavenly Father to love me no matter what, even when I mess up. God was the same millions of years ago as he is today. He loves me more than I can imagine.
Knowing that compassion means suffering along side another, and knowing that God is compassionate...I know and trust that God is with me in my struggles. Just as knew my dad was there with me to pick me up when I fell as a child, I know I can get through anything because my heavenly Father loves me and is there with me.
Dear God, thank you for being the Father of compassion. I know that even when I fall short you will be there to pick me up and set me back on course. Thank you for never changing and for loving me so much! I pray that my friends reading this will feel your love for them and be comforted to know they have a loving compassionate Father in heaven. Amen