During the months following the death of my wife’s mother, we received a number of cards and letters from the hospice team who had so lovingly cared for Mom and walked with our family along the pathway of loss. One letter offered thoughts on dealing constructively with grief. Another said, “As the date of your mother’s birthday approaches, we remember her, and our prayers and thoughts are with you and your family.” These wonderful caregivers know that grieving is an ongoing process that requires continuing help and support. They exhibit deep compassion in all they do.
Paul’s words “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2) come as an exclamation point to his description of life in the Spirit. In contrast to the destructive, self-centered acts of the sinful nature (Gal. 5:19-21), the fruit of the Holy Spirit in and through us is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (vv.22-23). The great freedom we have in Christ allows us to serve each other in love (v.13).
A word of encouragement to a hurting friend can come like a refreshing rain. When we continue to care in tangible ways, it grows into a life-giving stream of healing and love.
Compassion is the capacity to put Christlike love into action.