Fashion and Compassion

Walking into an expensive store or high-end boutique can be intimidating. Even though the clothes or accessories look beautiful, it can be awkward when you feel uncomfortable in the place. I used to call these stores “Movie Star Stores” because only the rich and famous can buy there.

Despite the intimidation, it can be intriguing to go into such stores—until you realize that you’re not dressed quite as nicely as the other customers. Overcoming your feeling of awkwardness, you timidly browse through a rack of items that catch your attention. When you glance at the price tags, you nearly lose your breath as you realize that a blouse costs as much as your car payment! To make matters worse, you notice that the store clerks are busy tending to other clientele, but not one of them has so much as greeted you. It’s as though they know that you can’t afford to buy anything. That’s when you realize that your visit to the store is over. You tell yourself, “I do not belong here,” and inch your way to the door, slipping out quietly and feeling a bit embarrassed and ashamed.

Unfortunately, this is how people sometimes feel when they visit a church. As the keeper of God’s storehouse, the church should always exhibit a big “Welcome!” sign that invites the hurt and brokenhearted to shop freely for the compassion that can heal their hearts. Where else can all the broken hearts go? Where can they find compassion? We as Christians must realize that we are like the store clerks in a department store. It is our responsibility to make everyone who walks through our doors feel comfortable and welcomed. We must ask ourselves, “Will they feel safe with their brokenness in their Father’s house?”

We can only answer “Yes” when we really allow God to purge ourhearts and mend ourbrokenness. When we find ourselves broken, we have two options. We can allow our hearts to become hardened like fortresses no one can enter; or we can choose to allow God to do surgery on our hearts and receive His compassion, so that we can find compassion for others. The choice is up to us; the second option requires a part of us to die to Him.

What is compassion? What will compassion require of you? I’m glad you asked! Compassion asks you to go to the broken and share in their pain. Compassion will find you in places you’ve never dreamed of and with people you may have never known. Compassion requires you to hear their deepest fears, violations, anguish, and heartaches. Compassion requires you to speak out for those who have been silenced by shame, and to mourn with those who have lost their will to go on. Compassion requires you to step into someone else’s shoes and walk with them through their nightmares. Compassion requires you to have the heart of Jesus, to see through the mask and into the pain. Compassion is ripping off the band-aid that hides the pain, so that the wound can be exposed and healed by the light.

When you allow yourself to be healed by the compassion of Christ, it becomes a gift you cannot contain. Notice what the Bible says in Matthew 12:34b: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (NKJV). Being compassionate begins in the heart and flows forward with our words—encouraging words that show love! It starts with a heart that sees beyond wrongdoings to repentance and sorrow. A compassionate heart forgives and loves others for who they are when they are walking toward God and learning to grow, even though they stumble from time to time. Compassion is the voice that builds up others. It is the hand that holds their hands tightly as they walk with God! When they slip, compassion gently pulls them back onto the right path. Compassion teaches us to love unconditionally; to walk in love and not judgment.

When we allow grace to flow into and out of our lives and we fix our eyes on Jesus, then it is He who daily whispers into our ears kind, loving, encouraging words full of hope, assuring us, “I know you can do it. I believe in you.”

Titus 3:1-2 tells us to be “…always ready to lend a helping hand. No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous” (MSG). Let us not hurt others by fighting back with our words or gossiping about other people’s business. Let us hold our tongues and “not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16b ESV). God will reward us with lives that are so much more beautiful with tamed tongues and compassionate hearts! Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries; without them, humanity cannot survive. We must rise above the concern of “self” and reach out to touch the lives of those around us. “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8 KJV).

Our churches need to be havens of hope and hospitals for the hurting. As brokenhearted people walk through our doors, let us freely shower them with compassion, which is one of the most valuable commodities found in God’s storehouse.

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