Thursday, August 24, 2017

Genuine Love and Compassion

February 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

Genuine Love and Compassion

Once again, Main Street United Methodist Church has asked me to write a Lenten devotional. It just appeared on line today. I hope you find it meaningful and relevant.

“But no stranger had to spend the night in the street, for Gmy door was always open to the traveler.” Job 31:32

The central theme of the Book of Job is humanity’s inability to rationalize or even comprehend the purpose of suffering, especially when we have seemingly done nothing whatsoever to deserve it. However, this Old Testament book has other important lessons to teach us. When Job asserts his righteousness before Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, he emphasizes the compassion he always showed to the impoverished and persecuted. Job recalls that he “rescued the poor, who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him.” (29:12) In beautiful, moving language, Job tells his three visitors that he comforted those who had lost loved ones and “made the widow’s heart sing.” (29:13) He assisted those with disabilities. “I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.” (29:15) 

Job fought to secure justice for the exploited. “I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban.” (9:14) He gives specific examples. “I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth.” (29:16-17) The phrase “I feel your pain” has become trivialized as a political cliche. Job’s compassion was such, however, that he indeed suffered with those in pain. “Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor?” (30:25) Clearly, there was no doubt in Job’s mind that a righteous person cares deeply about others. 

Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31) Ministering to those in pain and championing the cause of the oppressed are tangible expressions of love for our neighbors. And let’s keep in mind that “neighbors” doesn’t just mean the family living next-door to us. Every human being on Planet Earth is our neighbor.

I resolve this Lent to show genuine love and compassion for others.

— John Dunphy 

John J. Dunphy of Godfrey is a writer and poet. He is the author of “Abolitionism and the Civil War in Southwestern Illinois” and owns the Second Reading Book Shop in Alton.

All quotations from the New International Version of the Bible

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