Crossroads: Compassion

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1 John 3:16-24

My Story

For many of us, Christmas is a very special time of the year. It’s a time for celebrating Jesus, spending time with family, and getting lots of presents. But sometimes the presents and the desire for more stuff get in the way of the true meaning of Christmas and the compassion Jesus showed for us by laying down His life. We were blessed to be able to get most of what we wanted for Christmas each year when I was growing up. But my mom wanted to make sure we understood what was most important: helping others. So each year for several years, one of our presents came from World Vision. But this present wasn’t something we could hold. Instead, it was a gift for someone else. We got to pick what it was: ducks, chickens, sometimes a goat or two, but it was still a gift that was going to someone else. In this way and others, my mom taught us to see the needs of others, and to sacrifice some of the “stuff” we wanted so that others could live and thrive.

Your Story

How do you show compassion for others? Did you help others when you were a child, or is it something you have started recently? Talk to your children about ways you have helped or ways you want to help others.

The Bible Story

Read 1 John 3:16-24. Here it is from the NIV: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” 1 John 3:18. God calls us to love others. But that love cannot just be words. When I was a child, I was really sick. In fact, I had to have allergy shots every single day for a time when I was little. My mother cannot stand needles. She’d make a wonderful nurse except for the fact that she passes out when she sees a needle. But I had to have these shots in order to be well. It was too much for us to go to the doctor every day, so my mother practiced giving these shots. The first time she gave me my shot was in the doctor’s office. She gave me the shot, calmly put down the needle, and passed out. Eventually she stopped passing out, but the point is that even though she was afraid of needles, she loved me and I needed these shots, so she gave them to me. She didn’t just tell me she loved me; she showed me.

God calls us to show others His love. But this love doesn’t just leave people where they are, broken, starving, or hurting. This love calls us to come alongside others, to listen to their hurts and to carry their crosses. It requires us to be compassionate and help others when we see their need.

Action and Discussion

• Ask your children about ways that they have helped others.
• As a family, discuss ways that you can show compassion or help others this week. Perhaps that means taking dinner to a grieving friend or someone who has been sick. Maybe it means baking cookies for the lonely senior adult across the street. Maybe it means taking your family and serving food in a homeless shelter. Find ways to be creative.

Prayer

Thank God for loving us so much that He gave His life for us. Ask God to help you be more compassionate. Ask Him to show you the needs of others.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

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