Compassion (24 Aug 2014)

A few days ago, I turned on the radio, which happened to be a conversation, between the radio-host and a guest.  As I listened, it became clear to me that they were talking about what they think as to the kind of society that Singapore is heading towards.

The guest related a story he read that same morning in a recent newspaper (联合早报) article. The scene occurred at one of the terminals in our Airport.  The writer referred to what he witnessed – one of the old cleaners had vomited. According to him, his supervisor, a younger man, who instead of offering his help, or uttering a word of concern, asked him in a harsh tone, with words to the effect, ‘If you know that you are not well, why do you still come to work today, giving us problems?’  The guest made reference to the Senior Citizens working as cleaners in the airport and many other settings.  He was concerned that civic-consciousness seems lacking in present-day Singapore, which alarmed him.

As Christians, one would be correct to say that compassion should be exemplified in the everyday fabric of our lives. After all, the God in whom we worship is the God of Compassion – ‘But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. (Psa. 103:8) And the teaching of our Lord Jesus in Lk. 6:36 was, ‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.‘

One of the most compelling and touching scenes of our Lord when He was on earth was His evidential compassion He had for mankind. In the ‘Feeding of the 5000’ episode, it was said of our Lord, ‘When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.’ (Matt. 14:14)  In that same story, His disciples were all ready to send the crowd away. Verse 15 records, ‘Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”’ But our Lord would have none of that. He had no heart send them away. He got the crowd seated and went on to produce the miracle of the loaves.

And of course, the compassion of God for mankind goes beyond our physical needs. ‘The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.’ (2Pet. 3:9)

Scenes like this is not uncommon in Singapore. What comes to our mind when we see these men, taking a nap at our void-decks, perhaps taking a well-earned break or much-deserved rest – in the shade and away from the sun?

In a recorded incident of our Lord walking through the cities and villages, we read the touching moment, ‘When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.’(Matt. 9:36). This being missions month, it will be well for us to note that it was following this that we read on in verses 37 and 38 ‘Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”’

Missions and Evangelism, beyond doubt, is very much tied in with a need for compassion. May God fill our hearts with compassion for the lost, and in so doing, please the heart of God. For as the Scipture says, ‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’ (LK. 19:10)


Elder Richard Lai